The Memphis Grizzlies lost Game Six of the 2017 NBA Playoffs First Round series against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs closed the series in Memphis at FedExForum in a hard fought battle, 103-96. Game Six was a perfect representation of what the whole series has been like. Though the Grizz took a tough L, this series proved that Memphis can play with any team in the league.
I hate to give a report card on the last game of the season, but in the end there will be only be one team that wins the whole thing anyway. Last night’s game was a roller coaster for both teams, there were 16 ties and nine lead changes, four ties in the fourth quarter alone.
The Grizzlies played pretty well overall, but there were some key mistakes and tough breaks that ultimately led to the Grizz’ demise. Below are some grades I’ve given for the game.
Grizzly Rebounding, SUPER F-
If you look at the final rebounding numbers it is obvious that the Spurs dominated the boards. For one, that should never happen when you have Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on the floor (at the same time). But then look closer. Spurs led the in offensive rebounds 16 to 7. If you were watching this game, this was the most frustrating thing of all time.
In the fourth quarter with under a minute to go, James Ennis III played awesome defense on Kawhi Leonard, forced him into a tough shot, and what do you know? An offensive rebound the leads to a Tony Parker jumper. Dagger. The whole night was a reflection of that last play. Marc and Z-Bo struggled to keep the Spurs off the offensive glass and that absolutely killed the Grizzlies.
Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge both shot below average, so you would think that would result in a Memphis win. But giving up second chance points on the boards simply broke our back.
James Ennis III, B
What a game for this man. His stat line wasn’t that impressive, but you really had to watch the game to understand. He just played his role so well. He was 3-4 from 3-point land, added three rebounds and took one steal. But most importantly, he played solid defense on Kawhi Leonard.
Of course, Leonard still ended the game with 29 points, but he only made 9 field goals on 19 attempts and he actually had to pass the ball a few times. Kawhi is a baller, but Ennis held his ground and forced him into tough shots.
There were a few times on offense that the Grizzlies needed a quick bucket and the ball ended up in Ennis’ hands. If there is one thing Ennis could’ve done better its score the ball off the dribble. He shot the ball well, but he looked like the ball was glued to his hand when he tried to make a move off the dribble. This hurt the Grizzlies offense a few times.
Bench Play (Both Teams), B-
The Spurs bench has dominated the Grizzlies, both starters and reserves, all series. Led by Patty Mills, followed by Pau Gasol and Manu Ginobili, their bench is stacked with solid players. But for once, they didn’t play all that well. I say that with a grain of salt because Patty Mills was still 4-6 from the field for 10 points. But Pau Gasol was 0-6 and scoreless.
Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale decided to shy away from playing the rookies significant minutes, Andrew Harrison and Wayne Selden only played 8 minutes each. Harrison came in in the first half and knocked down to quick threes, but Conley and Vince needed to be on the floor for more offense.
The benches tied in scoring at 16 points each, but played their roles in giving starters valuable rest time. Any time you can keep the Spurs’ bench from taking over, you can count that as a small win for your team.
This game looked to be a win for the Grizzlies. Some mistakes down the stretch, and unfortunately Kawhi Leonard, led to a sad Memphis loss. The Spurs will face the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinal round. For the Grizzlies, there’s always next year…right?