Down 2-1 Spurs Face Must Win Game Against Grizzlies in Memphis

2011 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game #4
#1 San Antonio Spurs at #8 Memphis Grizzlies (MEM leads series 2-1)
Best of Seven Series, Format 2-2-1-1-1
FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
Monday, April 25, 2011, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Spurs -1
Current Line: Spurs -1 1/2
Opening Total: 190
Current Total: 189
Money Line: Spurs -125 / Grizzlies +105

The Memphis Grizzlies had never won a playoff game in 3 previous trips to the post-season having been swept 4-0 in three first round series. This year they lead the might Spurs 2-1 in their best of seven series and can put a stranglehold on the series with a win tonight in Memphis. However, the Spurs are a veteran team that has won 4 NBA Championships since 1999, so they won’t just roll over. Both of the Grizzlies wins in the series have come by 3 points. The Grizzlies pulled off the upset in game one in San Antonio 101-98, a game Manu Ginobli missed with an elbow injury. The Spurs rebounded in game 2 with a 93-87 win to even the series. Saturday, in another hard fought physical battle Memphis won 91-88 to take the surprising 2-1 lead. Since the NBA expanded the first round to a best of seven in 2003 only one #8 seed has beaten a #1 seed. The 2007 Warriors defeated the Mavericks in 6 games. The Grizzlies can duplicate that feat with 2 more wins.

In game #3, The Spurs Big 3 of center Tim Duncan, forward Manu Gibobli, and point guard Tony Parker all did their part. The problem is no other Spur besides George Hill scored in double digits. Hill had 11 points and 5 rebounds off the bench. The rest of the Spurs’ bench only scored 13 points combined. Ginobli had 23 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks.  Parker added 16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals in the loss. Duncan had 13 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 blocks in the game. Forward Antonio McDyess had 8 points before leaving the game with a neck strain, He is listed as probable for tonight’s game. In game 3, the Spurs were 41% from the field including 2 for 15 from 3-point range. The Spurs have been outrebounding the Grizzlies for the whole series but part of that is the Spurs are missing so many shots. In game 3, the Spurs had 48 rebounds, 19 assists, and 13 turnovers.

The Grizzlies were led by forward Zach Randolph who had 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Center Marc Gasol had 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and one block in the Game 3 win. Point Guard Mike Conley had 14 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 steals. O.J. Mayo added 10 points off the bench. Forward Shane Battier had 9 points also off the bench. Darrell Arthur also had 9 points off the bench and added 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. The Grizzlies weren’t much better shooting than the Spurs shooting 42% from the field including 4 for 11 from 3-point range. They had 37 rebounds, 24 assists, and only 10 turnovers.

San Antonio is 9-6 against Memphis the last 3 seasons, but the Grizzlies are 10-5 ATS in those games. Memphis is 55-29 ATS in all games this season, including 28-11 as an underdog, 27-14 at home, 15-4 versus division opponents, 31-14 against teams with winning records, and 34-14 versus teams scoring 99 points or more a game. The Spurs are 26-15 ATS in road games this season, including 8-1 in games revenging an earlier loss.

As well as Memphis is playing they are doing it without Rudy Gay who is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Memphis is also playing without guards Jason Williams who retired last week with a back injury and Xavier Henry who is out indefinitely.

The rumor was that Memphis tanked some games at the end of the season because the Spurs were a small team and a better match-up than the Lakers. The Grizzlies deny this of course, but they do seem to match-up well against the Spurs. Now this series is far from over but the Spurs look old, slow and tired compared to the youthful vibrant Grizzlies. This is almost a must win game for both teams. A Grizzlies win would give them a commanding 3-1 series lead, while a Spurs win would give them home court advantage back and make the series best of 3. I think the Spurs gut out a close win tonight.

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