For the 5th time in their past 6 playoff series, the Spurs went up 2-0. On only one occasion (last year against Oklahoma City) have the Spurs gone on to lose the series. They swept the Jazz, the Clippers and the Lakers, lost to the Thunder and as Game 3 approached, they prepared to get past the Grizzlies and into the Finals for the 5th time in the last 15 years.
There's been talk in the national media (most notably, Bill Simmons) that Spurs' fans are being defensive about being disrespected by analysts and talking heads. No, not those Talking Heads, but the ones on First Take or NBA Countdown. Magic Johnson proclaimed that the Spurs would need to score 30 points per quarter in order to beat the Grizzlies, while Simmons refused to stop believing that the Spurs would not be able to win in the Grindhouse. (After the Roaracle, how bad could it really be?) Most of ESPN and Sports Illustrated's basketball experts chose the Spurs to advance, but the real ire for the Spurs’ fans was the lack of attention and coverage during the regular season and even these playoffs. (See Dr. Duke's article for more on this topic.)
Spurs' fans can either complain about this or be happy that the lack of media attention in San Antonio has allowed the franchise to create its own culture, one that has achieved success for so many years. There is no need to generate backlash against these journalists, since they're just trying to cover teams that the nation wants to know about. They aren't pandering to San Antonio fans, and why should they? The Spurs have their own fans who have been pounding the rock for decades, and will continue to do so when Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker inevitably retire. As the Spurs continue on their never-ending quest to the Finals, the national media will be forced to talk about them, but regardless who their opponent is (Memphis, Miami or Indiana), San Antonio will likely be talked about less than whoever they are facing up against. That's the life of the Spurs: consistent, under the radar, excellent.
Pop's Quotes of the Game
Answering Doris Burke's questions on what was wrong for the Spurs on defense and offense in the first period.
"One of the worst starts I've ever seen."
"Continue to pound and pound and pound."
If you haven't already, be sure to read Cameron Archer's recap of last night's game.
The Spurs were down 29-13 after the first quarter, lucky to have hit 13 points after a buzzer beating tip in by Manu Ginobili off a miss by Gary Neal. After being outscored by more than double in the first quarter, the Spurs would go on to win each period, by a grand total of 27 points. The turning point seemed to be Pop's yanking of the starters with five minutes to go in the first quarter. The first team had scored 5 points through seven minutes, while the replacements were able to tack on 8 in less than five minutes. The yanking of the 'A' team put a fire under their seats, as they combined for 19 of the 27 scored in the second quarter. Kawhi Leonard kicked off the quarter with a steal and a breakaway dunk, giving the Grizzlies a taste of their own medicine. The Spurs began to take care of the ball much better after the 1st, in which they committed 8 turnovers. In the four remaining periods (including overtime), they had only 9. The Spurs slowly chipped away at the lead and finally took it in the 4th, but were not able to put Memphis away in regulation. In overtime, Tim Duncan showed up with a vengeance for the second straight game, scoring 7 points and assisting on a nice Tiago Splitter layup that essentially put the game out of reach.
For the second straight game, Tim Duncan brought it to the Grizzlies. When the Spurs couldn't finish in regulation, Duncan was there to save the day, scoring 7 yet again in the extra period. What a performance by the ever consistent Big Fundamental.
Zach Randolph was considered for this spot, but he was able to corral 15 rebounds, including 9 on the offensive end. Bayless was too inconsistent, and cooled off considerably after the 1st quarter. He missed 8 of 11 shots and was a -18 in this game. As one of the 'Offensive' players for the Grizzlies, Bayless needs to contribute more than 7 points in 31 minutes in order for Memphis to have a chance to win.
By the Numbers
- 2 - Times that the Spurs have come back from an 18 point deficit in the playoffs to win. First time was against the Warriors in that legendary 2-OT Game 1.
- 107.4 - Points allowed by the Grizzlies per 100 possessions in the Conference Finals. This is terrible considering their 97.4 mark ranked 2nd in the league during the regular season. (Thanks to Elias Sports for that info)
- 144 - Playoff career double-doubles by Tim Duncan. He moved past Wilt Chamberlain into sole possession for second place, 13 behind Magic Johnson.
- 94 - Playoff career 20 point 10 rebound games for Tim Duncan, good for fourth all time. Shaq, Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rank above him.
- 6 - Three pointers by the Spurs, who only hit a third of their attempts. The Grizzlies attempted two more and hit one more, good for 35%. This is the first time in this series that the Grizzlies have made more three pointers than the Spurs.
- 22 - Field goals made by Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, on 41 attempts, at a 54% rate. Manu Ginobili hit 5/9 shots, and contributed 7/8 free throws.
- 69 - Combined points by the Big Three, 66% of the total Spurs' points. The Big Three also had 15 of the 20 Spurs' assists, 75% of the total.
- +2 - Rebounding differential for the Spurs, who out rebounded the Grizzlies for the first time in this series. The Spurs were out rebounded by 16 total rebounds in the first two games.
- 32 - Total offensive rebounds by both teams, giving each team many more chances at scoring the ball. The Grizzlies grabbed 19, while the Spurs had 13.
- -15 - Field Goal attempts differential for the Spurs, who had 82 attempts at the basket compared to 97 for Memphis. Even though the Grizzlies had so many more shots at the basket, they were unable to convert, and hit 3 fewer field goals than the Spurs, who shot 50%. The Grizzlies shot a shade under 40%.
- 10 - Steals by the Grizzlies, 7 which came in the first quarter. The Spurs took care of the ball much better after the turnover-prone first period.
Bird is the Word
Spurs run out onto the floor vine.co/v/bVHeQudDOap— Juan Cantu (@juanmcantujr) May 26, 2013
Spurs have five turnovers, no points. I'm not a basketball expert by any means, but that doesn't sound good.— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) May 26, 2013
Spurs still averaging one turnover a minute. That’s really, really not good. 16-5 and it’s time to yank the starters.— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) May 26, 2013
The 13 points was the lowest opening quarter score for the Spurs in any game this season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 26, 2013
Turnovers: Pop's word of the day. sbn.to/14Pv4nU— SB Nation (@sbnation) May 26, 2013
Basketball, meet Marc Gasol's face. Marc Gasol's face, meet basketball. [GIF] sbn.to/14PAE9O— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) May 26, 2013
I've seen more from Matt Bonner in this series than I have his entire Spurs career.— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 26, 2013
Borussia Dortmund could have used Duncan today.— Leigh Ellis (@LeighEllis) May 26, 2013
When this series ends, the Spurs will be hated for all the right reasons: methodically destroying everybody else's favorite teams.— Caleb Saenz (@calebjsaenz) May 26, 2013
Spurs made first five shots in OT, 8 of 10 overall. That's execution.— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneysaen) May 26, 2013
- That first quarter was terrible. There were bad misses by the Spurs in the period, and great ball movement by the Grizz and their shots were falling. Turnovers didn't help either.
- Most of my notes taken in the first quarter say: "Conley/Allen steals the ball, Grizz get layup on the other end". Fortunately for the Spurs, this trend ended when the quarter ended.
- Ed Davis, Jon Leuer and Darrell Arthur combined for 11 minutes in this game. Keyon Dooling had 8. The other two Memphis bench players had more than 28 minutes each (Pondexter and Bayless). The Grizzlies aren't a deep team. For comparison, the Spurs had 10 players with over 8 minutes and no one hit over 44 even though there was an overtime period. Three of the Grizzlies had more than 45 minutes played.
- Not to keep piling on the national media, but the NBA Countdown crew doesn't really converse with each other rather than each guy just gives their own point, and the next guy who should respond, goes on another tangent. Yet another reason why the TNT crew is better.
- For most of the game, it looked as if the Spurs were going to have more turnovers than assists, but they were able to control the ball and kept the patented Spurs' movement going. Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan were the beneficiaries of many nice Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker passes in the paint.
- Darrell Arthur had a Tim Duncan moment in this game. No he didn't block a shot or dunk the ball, but he had 3 quick fouls in just over 2 minutes. Duncan did it better in Game 2, when he got 3 in half a minute. Step up your game Arthur!
- Kawhi Leonard only had 4 points, but none were more important than his steal and breakaway dunk at the very start of the second quarter. The Spurs needed a bit of a spark, and he provided that. On the next possession, Mike Conley threw the ball away, and Matt Bonner responded with a three pointer. Soon enough, the double digit deficit was cut to single digits. Grit n grind!
- Cory Joseph had two turnovers after not committing any for at least an entire series. He didn't get many minutes, as Pop decided to ride Tony and Manu on the point. Joseph and Gary Neal had 20 minutes combined.
- Matt Bonner continues to confound Spurs' fans. He played pretty well in this game, scoring 8 points in 16 minutes. He even grabbed 3 rebounds and played great defense on Zach Randolph, as he fronted him and fought him down low for position. Randolph pushes and grabs in order to get position, but complains to the refs when the same is done to him.
- Both of these teams play great defense. Ball movement has to be extra crisp in order to get some plays off. There were multiple times when a guard had to pass the ball cross court and nearly threw it out of the intended players' reach. Pondexter and Green made a couple of nice grabs on those passes.
- Again on Leonard, he didn't have many points, but he grabbed 11 rebounds, leading the way for the Spurs. Remember when rebounding was a big weakness for the Spurs? Not anymore. The wings and guards were boarding well for the Spurs, as Ginobili had 7, Green had 6 and Parker had 4.
Going into Game 4, the Spurs need to…
…finish the Grizzlies. No NBA team has ever lost a playoff series after going up 3-0, and the Spurs should not be the first. In fact, under Popovich, when the Spurs have gone up 3-0, they've never made it past Game 5, showing the ability of the Spurs in shut the series down. They are one win away from another Finals appearance.