This picture best explains the first two games of the Western Conference Finals for the Memphis Grizzlies. Game one resulted in a 105-83 throbbing at the hands of their opponent, the San Antonio Spurs. In game two, the Grizzlies were able to scratch and claw their way into overtime, where they eventually lost after only scoring four points in the extra period.
The series is now going to Memphis, where the Grizzlies need to defend their home court in order to stay alive in the series. Although they are down 2-0 to an experienced San Antonio squad, there is not much that they need to fix.
Now, it seems like this is a big problem because “defense” covers many smaller factors. But, these are the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that has made their name off of playing gritty defense. This season, they allowed the fewest points per game with an impressive 89.3 per contest. Also, they allowed the third-lowest field goal percentage during the regular season, holding opponents to an average shooting percentage of just 43.5% per game. In the two games this series, Memphis has given up an average of 99 points per game, while allowing the Spurs to shoot 48% from the field.
Numbers like these would lead one to believe that this cannot be fixed, but they showed their true colors in the fourth quarter this past Tuesday night. They held the Spurs to just nine points in the fourth quarter, and to just two points in the final 8:14 of the game. The Spurs turned the ball over, while Memphis capitalized on almost every one. This was the real Grizzlies team that we had not seen for the first nearly seven quarters of the series.
Tony Allen received the most points in all-NBA defense voting this year, while guard Mike Conley made the all-NBA defensive team along with center Marc Gasol, who was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year this season. There is plenty of defensive talent on this roster, it is just a matter of Memphis really focusing on shutting down the Spurs.
The question is, will they? We will see in about five hours.