WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 8:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: TNT, Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Tony Allen (Out, right calf), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee)
SAN ANTONIO- None
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Wayne Selden Jr., Vince Carter, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
SAN ANTONIO- Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon
Tonight, the action returns to the Grind House for game three of this series. The Grizzlies lost the first two but had a tad bit of fight in them to close out game two. The team is going to have to get behind a raucous crowd to find a way to win the most important game of this season.
We all saw and loved Coach David Fizdale’s $30,000 rant about the officiating after the game. One of the best parts about all of this was that the team jumped to (financially) support their coach for sticking up for them which is great to see. The players will hopefully translate that to the court tonight.
As for the Spurs, they’re sitting pretty knowing they have, for the most part, completely dominated the Grizzlies thus far in this series. Excluding the third quarter of game two (which is a positive because of the Grizzlies’ 3rd quarter struggles this season), San Antonio has outscored Memphis 188-136 in the other seven quarters.
To win tonight, the Grizzlies are going to have to dominate on both sides of the ball. The offense, and the bench in particular, has been sluggish throughout this entire series. One thing is a fact. Memphis will have to score more than 82 points in a game if they have any hope to win a game this series.
Here are a few things to take note of before tonight’s big game.
Kawhi Leonard Has Been Unstoppable
There has been one consistent X-factor in this series. That, of course, has been the MVP candidate himself, Kawhi Leonard. No one on the Grizzlies can stop him. He is doing whatever he wants, when he wants. We feared this may happen with the injury to Tony Allen, and it’s been brutal.
Now as Coach Fizdale so famously loves to do, let’s take a look at the #data. In the two games of this series, Kawhi is averaging 34.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He’s coming off a game two where he went 9/14 from the field and 19/19 on free throws scoring 37 points in 40 minutes. It was one of the most efficient games that a player could have. Even if you don’t like the calls (as it was mainly Memphis not getting calls compared to Kawhi being treated somewhat favorably), he still did what he wanted, when he wanted.
Memphis is going have to find an answer to at least hold back another scoring outburst from Kawhi. With the building rocking and the crowd behind the team, team defense will be the key against him. Make other players beat you. Bottom line.
The reason the Grizzlies can’t break 82 in this series is because of the abysmal bench play so far. Outside of a solid 18 and 10 night from Zach Randolph in game two, the bench has been non-existent. Mike Conley comes off the court and the team is counting the minutes til he gets rested enough to come back in. There’s no answer offensively for when Andrew Harrison is the primary ball handler.
The Grizzlies are going to need someone to step up along with the regulars to take down the Spurs tonight. I’m not even sure if Troy Daniels still plays for the team at this point. He was many people's pick for bench impact to give Memphis a fighting chance in this series. Daniels, along with Brandan Wright, has been a no-show. Tonight is the night where they are going to have to step up.
I don’t feel great about the Grizzlies tonight. If you take away Fizdale’s speech, the fanbase and team would be very gloomy after losing two games by double digits. Unfortunately, I just feel very down about the Grizzlies against this playoff Spurs team. Tony Parker has come alive and, as stated earlier, Kawhi is doing remarkable things.
However, even with me not having confidence, the facts are as follows. This is a must win for the Grizzlies. It is their most important game of the year. Going down 3-0 in this series is a death blow, but if they could cut it to 2-1, anything is possible. It will come from the studs being the studs. Marc and Mike will get with the home court crowd and carry the load. This, combinged with a 15 and 10 night from ZBo, can be a winning formula. Believing in Memphis is a real thing, especially at home. Teams don’t come back from 3-0 deficits, and the team knows that heading in. Look for the Grizzlies to come out hungry.
Spread: Spurs -3.5 This may be a pessimistic (realistic) take, but put the house on the Spurs tonight. The money is coming in on Memphis because of the home court advantage and Fizdale’s speech. I am not really sure why though. I understand that the team will have something more than usual, but in all actuality, San Antonio is the better, deeper team.
Spurs- 101, Grizzlies- 94
All stats provided by NBA.com