TOP RATED PLAY ON:
713 San Antonio Spurs -4
In this Game 3 matchup, I am siding with the Spurs as I believe they have the edges on both ends of the court…Memphis is at home and should be charged up, but I don’t believe that will be enough to take out the Spurs who are running like a well oiled machine right now…Below are some of the Edges I like in favor of the Spurs tonight.
*EDGE #1: …Spurs has Leonard, but Memphis has no Allen!
Simply put, Leonard is the best player for both teams and he has started the playoffs on fire…In the regular season, Leonard averaged 25.5 ppg, 5.8 rebounds per game and 3.5 apg…However, in the playoffs so far, Leonard is coming off of two straight playoff career highs of 32 and then 37 points…And that is not all, Leonard has a combined 14 rebounds, 7 assists and has gone a stupid 28-for-28 from the FT line…Leonard has only gone 1-for-5 from long range, but that doesn’t matter as he is shooting a ridiculous 71.4% (20-of-28) from the field.
Leonard is a solid player on both ends of the court…Don’t forget that he has won the Defensive Player of the Year award, the past two seasons…This year is a little different, because he has been carrying a bigger load on the offensive end, but his defensive skills are still in play…Speaking of defensive skills, one of the main reasons why Leonard is having an even more impressive playoffs run so far is simply due to the fact that the Grizzlies lost probably their best defensive player in Tony Allen…Allen was lost before the playoffs, after suffering a calf injury.
Allen’s loss is a big one, because he is a lock down defender and the only Memphis player who has been able to slow Leonard down each time they faced the Spurs…Both teams faced each other in the regular season 4 times (Leonard missed the 1st game and Allen missed the 4th game)…However, in the 2nd game on March 18th, Allen was able to hold Leonard to just 6-of-15 from the field, 2-of-6 from long range and just 22 points, which is below his season average of 25.5 ppg…Memphis won that game 104-96…In the 3rd game, on March 23rd, Allen held Leonard to just 7-of-15 from the field, 1-for-5 from long range and again to under his season average, with just 19 points…The Spurs won that game, but Leonard was definitely held in check by the stout defensive play of Tony Allen.
When Allen didn’t play against the Leonard and the Spurs (1 time in the regular season and twice so far in the playoffs) due to injury, Leonard has simply gone off, scoring 32 points in the April 4th game…32 points in Game 1 of the playoffs…and then 37 points in Game 2…Without Allen to defend Leonard, the Grizzlies simply has no one else in their lineup, who is able to slow Leonard down…And that is why, the lost of Tony Allen, gives the Spurs a big edge over the Grizzlies.
Side Note: How good of a defender is Tony Allen?…Well, Kobe Bryant, one of the best offensive player in NBA history, has said countless times that Allen is the toughest defender he has ever faced-off against…Bryant even autographed a pair of shoes saying: “To Tony, the best defender I’ve ever faced.”…That is a big validation of how good a defender Allen is, in my opinion.
Memphis strength is defense and the Grizzlies will have to find someone to guard Leonard…A problem Leonard causes is he plays an average of 33.51 minutes per game, so the 40 year old Carter is out…The Grizzlies can try and use one of their 2 young versatile defenders in forward Green or Ennis…They both are tough defender, but Leonard has too much talent and athleticism for them…Green can’t effectively cover him and the last time Ennis guarded him, he left the game with 5 fouls…And I don’t think that the Grizzlies will go back to using Seldon, as he was constantly beat off the dribble.
Making matters worse, is the fact that the Grizzlies Green, Ennis and Carter also ranks 1st, 3rd and 4th in Grizzlies players who commit the most fouls per game…None of these 4 guys were able to slow, let alone stop Leonard, and that is one of the reasons why Leonard has gotten to the line for 28 attempts in the 2 playoff games…I think someone should let Memphis coach know that he should expect to see Leonard at the FT line a lot tonight, and it won’t be because of the referees either…Without Tony Allen, you can expect Leonard to continue to run wild with ease, once again.
Side Note: With the lost of Allen, the Grizzlies not only lost their best defender against Leonard, they also lost his offensive contribution of 9.1 ppg and 5.5 rpg, which both ranks 4th best for the Grizzlies…The way the Grizzlies offense is struggling to score points, his 9.1 points per game average would have been a big help.
*EDGE #2:…..Spurs have the Better Defense!
The Grizzlies do possess a solid top ranked defense…However, the Spurs possess an elite defense…Currently, the Grizzlies defense ranks 3rd in points allowing 100.1 points per game, while the Spurs rank 2nd in the league allowing just 97.8 ppg…The Spurs also rank 2nd in opponents effective FG% allowing just 49.1%…The Grizzlies rank 9th in opponents effective FG% allowing 50.7%…The Spurs rank 5th in 3pt FG% defense, while the Grizzlies rank 12th…The Spurs rank 2nd in 2pt % defense, while the Grizzlies rank 7th….The Spurs rank 2nd in FG% defense, while the Grizzlies rank 4th…The Spurs rank 2nd in opponents shooting efficiency, while the Grizzlies rank 15th…The Spurs rank 2nd in block shots per game, while the Grizzlies ranked 23rd…The Spurs rank 6th in defensive rebounding %, while the Grizzlies rank 8th.
Side Note: The Spurs have not given up more than 30 points in 8 quarters.
One area where the Grizzlies are ranked 1st in the NBA is in protecting the paint…The Grizzlies allow just 37.8 points in the paint per game…However, that may not matter much as the Spurs score the majority of their points outside of the paint, as they rank 28th in the league in points in the paint per game.
Since the All-Star break, the Spurs has had the much better defense ranking 2nd overall, compared to the Grizzlies, who rank 20th in defense.
*EDGE #3:…..Spurs have the Better Offense!
Both teams can play solid defense…So this game may come down to who has the better offense…And the Spurs overwhelmingly is the much more talented offensive team…Currently, the Spurs average 105.3 ppg, which ranks 14th in the NBA, compared to the Grizzlies who average 100.5 ppg, which ranks 28th in the league…The Spurs also rank 9th in effective FG% at 52.9%, while the Grizzlies rank 28th at 49.0%…The Spurs rank 5th in FG% shooting, while the Grizzlies rank 13th…The Spurs rank 1st in 3pt FG%, while the Grizzlies rank 17th…The Spurs rank 7th in shooting efficiency, while the Grizzlies rank 27th…The Spurs rank 14th in 2pt% shooting, while the Grizzlies rank dead last…The Spurs rank 6th in FG% shooting, while the Grizzlies rank dead last.
Side Note: The Spurs rank 5th in FT% shooting 80% from the line, while the Grizzlies rank 13th averaging 78.5%…The Spurs on the road, is averaging a slightly higher 80.5% shooting from the line, which is the 3rd highest % in the league.
The obvious advantage for the Spurs offense is Leonard…But an even bigger advantage may be in the Spurs bench…Time and time again this season, the Spurs bench has been able to come up big when the offense struggled…The Spurs bench has also helped maintain or extend leads when they have entered the game…And currently, the Spurs bench is ranked 3rd in offensive efficiency, while the Grizzlies bench ranks 13th.
The key to this series is which team will be able to avoid offensive droughts and consistently generate good shots…And, the Spurs offense has shown to be able to do just that…The Grizzlies offense, on the other hand, is struggling and averaged just 82 points in the two playoff games so far…Problem for Memphis is that they are not an elite offensive team and to expect them to all of a sudden find an offense against this elite Spurs defense is too much to ask or expect.
Side Note: The Spurs have scored 207 points and only given up 164 points in the two playoff wins vs Memphis.
The Spurs get a large majority of their points off ball movement, ranking 7th in the NBA in assists per game at 23.8…while the Grizzlies rank 21st at 21.3 assists per game…This ability to move the ball around has led the Spurs offense to be clicking on all cylinders so far…And the depth of the Spurs, has been too much for the Grizzlies limited offense.
Again, the loss of Allen on defense has created a lot of problems for the Grizzlies to slow or contain Leonard…So much focus has been on Leonard that the Grizzlies offense has struggled…And this happens with most defensive teams, try to fall back on their strengths instead of focusing on getting weak offense off and running…In today’s NBA, it is all about the offense…But for teams like the Grizzlies, they struggle when facing a team like the Spurs who are playing very well on both ends of the court.
Side Note: Yes, the Grizzlies are one of just 4 teams this season who has beaten the Spurs more than once…The Grizzlies beat the Spurs twice at home by a combined 23 points…However, in the first game they won at home, the Spurs were without both Leonard and Gasol…And in their 2nd home win over the Spurs, the Grizzlies probably played their best complete game on both ends of the court.
Lastly, I don’t hear a lot about the fact that the Grizzlies are currently not on a two game losing streak…but rather a 4 game losing streak, which include 2 losses in the final two home games…The Spurs also came into the playoffs on a 3 game losing streak…However, the difference is that those 3 losses were against playoff bound teams…In the Grizzlies 4 game losing streak, they have been outscored 102.5 to 86.8…They were also had a lower shooting % of 41.1% to opponents 47.7%…And, they have also be out-rebounded 44.5 to 49…This a major slide that the Grizzlies offense and also their defense is on…They have no momentum at all, compared to the Spurs…Not Good!
*EDGE #4:….Spurs have the Big Edge in Coaching!
The Spurs have a coaching guru in Gregg Popovich, who’s won five NBA championships since 1999…Beside the Spurs overall talent they have over the Grizzlies, they also have a big edge with Pops wealth of knowledge and playoff experience…He knows how to win and beat the Grizzlies in the playoffs, which they have now done 10 straight times.
Side Note: Under Pop, the Spurs are one of just two teams to finish with over 60 wins overall and also wins in 30 games or more at home and also on the road…The only other team to do that this season, is the Golden State Warriors.
The Spurs went 30-11 on the road in the regular season…And that 30 road wins, equals the most the Spurs has ever had in a single season…That right there should also say a lot about this Spurs team, who played this season without their most valuable player for many years, in Tim Duncan…To be able to repeat that feat says a lot about the coaching abilities of Pop.
Lastly…“Memphis coach David Fizdale was fined $30,000 on Wednesday for unleashing a memorable rant about the officiating after Game 2 and one of his points was that Leonard attempted more free throws (19) than his entire team (15).”…When I saw this, I had to laugh as I wondered if this guy even knows that his team is just as much responsible for all the fouls being called against them.
In fact, Memphis currently ranks 2nd to last in the league in fouls committed, averaging 22.4 fouls per game…The Spurs, on the other hand, are ranked 6th in the league in committing the fewest fouls per game…Memphis also ranks 2nd to last in % of play that their fouls account for, at 21.2%…The Spurs fouls, meanwhile, only account for 17%, which ranks 8th lowest in the league.
And, I also wonder if he is aware that his team, is ranked 2nd to last in allowing opponents the most FT attempts per game, averaging 26.9…Or the fact that it is because of his teams high fouls committed per game, that the Grizzlies rank 3rd to last in the league, in opponents FT’s made per game at 20.3…The Grizzlies head coach Fizdale is a rookie NBA coach, so I don’t expect him to be fully aware of everything that goes on…Unlike the Spurs Popovich, who knows his team and what it takes to be successful in the playoffs…And that is why he provides the Spur yet another big edge in this game.
Side Note: The Grizzlies has gone 1-7 SU and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games.
Bottom line is I expect the Grizzlies to be charged up with being at home…But I still don’t think that will be enough, especially as their offense is struggling and their defense is missing the only guy who has proven to be able to contain Leonard…In the last 3 games that the Spurs faced Memphis and Allen did not play, Leonard scored a combined 101 points (avg of 33.6 ppg)…In the two games Allen did play against Leonard, he held him to under his season average (25.5 ppg) twice (19 & 22 pts)…In the first two games of the playoffs, the Grizzlies didn’t have an answer to slow Leonard and he shot 71.4% from the field (20-of-28) and got to the FT line 28 times, draining all 28 attempts.
For the Grizzlies to have any chance of beating the Spurs today, they will have to out play them on both ends of the floor…And they will also have to sustain that high level of play for all 4 quarters as well…To me, that is simply to much to ask against the Spurs, who not only has the better offense, defense, bench, 2nd best road record, momentum and the best coach in the NBA, for the Grizzlies to overcome.
This is the playoffs and it is when the best teams win and cream rises to the top…The Spurs simply own the Grizzlies in the playoffs winning 10 straight games vs them…They swept them 4-0 last season and right now, they are playing like a well-oiled machine on the court and the Grizzlies are not…Home court will give the Grizzlies a burst of energy early, but in the end, the Spurs will be determined to win this game and put this series an early eventual end….The Spurs have already beaten the Grizzlies by an average of 21.5 points in the last two games, so asking them to only win by 4 points, should be easily doable for the 2nd best road team with the 2nd best defense in the NBA….Nothing more to say, but …GO SPURS!
Side Note: Memphis is 5-17 ATS in their last 22 games playing on 2 days rest.
Side Note: Memphis is 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 Conf Quarterfinals games.
Side Note: Memphis is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
Side Note: Memphis is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs a team with a winning SU record.
Side Note: Spurs are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 Conf Quarterfinals game.
Side Note: Spurs are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 road games.