Spurs coach Gregg Popovich just announced that Spurs guard Manu Ginobili will be playing tonight in game two against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Ginobili averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, three rebounds and 1.2 steals per game against the Grizzlies in the regular season.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich just announced that Spurs guard Manu Ginobili will be playing tonight in game two against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The San Antonio Spurs are just hours away from game two against the Memphis Grizzlies, and we've called on Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue once again to ask him some pregame questions. I also answered a few of Chip's questions, which you can find at 3 Shades of Blue.
1. Does the thought that Memphis had to play nearly perfect against a Spurs team without Manu Ginobili worry you a bit?
Memphis didn’t come close to playing a perfect game. They were in serious foul trouble from the beginning. They didn’t score in the paint as much as they usually do (they average 54 points a night in the paint but only scored 40 points in game 1). Mike Conley and Tony Allen weren’t scoring well. Mayo was 2-9 from inside the arc. The team was 21-33 from the line. They only had two steals as a team. The refs called enough fouls against the Grizzlies to send San Antonio to the line 47 times. They turned the ball over 16 times which is more than average for the Grizzlies on the season and in the previous games against San Antonio. All in all it was far from a near perfect game.
That doesn’t mean the return of Manu Ginobili doesn’t concern me or the Grizzlies. Manu is a special player who is very effective scoring the ball and an excellent defensive presence. If he is healthy he should have a huge impact on the game. Whenever Manu is on the floor he makes the Spurs a better team. His influence will be huge. Tony Allen can’t afford to get into early foul trouble like he did in game 1. The Grizzlies will need to be even more diligent at protecting the arc on defense. They will need to improve their ball control because those sloppy passes won’t just be turnovers with Manu in the game. Manu will turn them into buckets. The thing to remember now is Memphis is the underdog as the 8th seed. They have already won a road game and now have merely to win at home (where the Grizzlies were 30-11 this season) to win the series. Memphis has nothing to worry about against a team as strong as the Spurs. If they lose it is expected. San Antonio is the team under pressure right now not the Grizzlies. The Spurs have lost three consecutive games now and have lost three straight to Memphis. Perhaps the question should be is San Antonio worrying after losing a game where they shot 47 free throws, won the rebounding battle and held Zach Randolph without a single offensive rebound considering their recent struggles?
2. How does Manu change things for the Grizzlies in game planning for game two?
I don’t believe Manu changes things for the Grizzlies in game planning because the Grizzlies planned on Manu playing in Game 1. If anything the team should be better prepared for the Spurs if he does play. Manu played in all four games against Memphis this season and the teams split the season series. In fact if not for Tony Parker’s sensational game in December Memphis would have won the season series. If anything Manu’s return will probably aid Tony Allen and the Grizzlies defensive game plan. It seemed Tony was lost for most of Game 1 because he was so consumed with stopping Manu that he didn’t know what to do against Hill. This season Manu has shot 41.9% against the Grizzlies and averaged 15.3 ppg. If Tony Allen can contain him in a similar manner in Game 2 then the Grizzlies should be in great shape in the game. What will change is how the Grizzlies use O J Mayo in the game. The Grizzlies were able to play Conley and Mayo together in the backcourt against Hill and Parker. Ginobili on the court will likely restrict Mayo’s minutes. Mayo will likely not play 30 minutes in this game unless Allen gets into foul trouble again. Mayo is an excellent offensive player and has been improving on defense somewhat. Yet, if Ginobili is healthy and can get Allen into foul trouble early that would be an advantage for the Spurs.
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Each week, our writers will sound off on one topic of the week with short audio takes. If you are a Spurscast subscriber, you'll also be seeing podcasts with all of our takes together along with your weekly Spurscast.
This week we asked our writers to talk about who their choice for San Antonio Spurs MVP was. Not surprisingly, it was unanimous. Press play below to find out who our 2010-11 Spurs MVP is.
Michael De Leon, Founder -
Paul Garcia, Staff Writer -
Jake Faunce, Staff Writer -
So those are our takes for the week. Feel free to use our comments section to give your take on if you agree/disagree or want to pick who's take was the best.
With no word yet on whether San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili will return to the starting lineup tonight for game two of the Spurs' series with the Memphis Grizzlies, a few Grizzlies players spoke on how much of a difference Ginobili makes for the Spurs:
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins:
"Having him in the lineup allows (point guard) Tony Parker to go to the wing and Manu handles the ball in pick-and-rolls," Hollins said. "He can attack the basket and score, or throw back out to Tony, who can take it to the rim like a jet. Manu has become a better three-pointer shooter and he makes better decisions than he did when he first came in the league."
"Ginobili is smart and crafty and left-handed like me," said Griz forward Zach Randolph, someone who also bases his game on intelligence and guile. "When Ginobili is on the floor, the Spurs are a better team. He gets it done for them, and sometimes you wonder how he makes some of the shots he does."
"Manu does just about everything well," Conley said, "but he's deadly when he gets in the paint. He has some of the best body control in the league. He can go full speed, stop on a dime, take a one-two step, go off his wrong leg and score using either hand in any direction."
With the Spurs down 0-1, it is imperative Ginobili returns to the court. Coming back for an 0-2 deficit is the last thing San Antonio wants and to avoid that, San Antonio will need their All-Star guard back on the court.
• Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley shares what Memphis has to do in game two to defeat the San Antonio Spurs:
Continue to move the ball side to side. That's the biggest key because if we just settle for first options the Spurs will kill us. They're a very good defensive team. As long as we are able to move the ball, give them different looks, misdirection looks, it's hard to defend any team in the NBA that swings the ball and throws it in the post pretty quick and let the big guy go to work. (usatoday.com)
• There was a huge timing error in game one of the Spurs-Grizzlies series and WOAI.com says the refs should be held accountable:
• Express News' Tim Griffin says game one losses in the playoffs for the Spurs is not that huge of a blow.
• Check out the post game one Q&A Project Spurs did with Grizzlies' site 3 Shades of Blue by clicking HERE.
• Hoops Manifesto says Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is their NBA Coach of the Year:
The idea of the San Antonio Spurs still being a dominant NBA power was all but considered dead heading into this season. Their total regular season wins had declined each season since they won 63 in 2005/06. Key contributors Richard Jefferson, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess were all on the wrong side of 30-years-old. And the team's blueprint of pounding the ball inside to Duncan and working the offense through him was archaic in today's guard dominated NBA. So what did our choice for Coach of the Year, Gregg Popovich, do? He coaxed 61 wins out of his roster, despite Duncan playing and contributing the least in his storied career. He revamped the offense, gave the ball to Ginobili and turned the team into one of the League's most explosive. And he's got the Spurs aiming for yet another NBA title. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Memphis Grizzlies stole homecourt advantage away from the San Antonio Spurs in Game One of their series.
Now Memphis' Mike Conley says the Grizzlies have to be ready for what the Spurs have in store for them tomorrow night:
“First off we have to be professional about it. We have to stay humble. We have to realize you know we’re not here to win one game. We want to win the series, but we gotta go back in with even more focus because we understand they didn’t have [Manu] Ginobili and if he comes back they’re going to be hungry. They’re going to want to show what happened last game was a fluke or whatever they feel, so we gotta come out ready to go and be ready for the all punches they’re going to throw and be ready for another physical night.”
Conley also says the physicality of Memphis is the difference maker for the Grizzlies this season and is what gives them an edge on the defensive end in their series with San Antonio:
“This team is very, very, physical. We have a lot of guys like Tony [Allen] and Shane [Battier], you know Leon Powe, guys who are really defensive minded, that have brought a different kind of attitude to this team. I think everyone has fed off that early in the season and right now you don’t even need to tell anybody or need to get anybody hyped for the game. I think everybody individually has done a good job preparing themselves for the game. Last night we had a great team effort defensively against Tony Parker and different guys on that team. We just wanted to physical and be aggressive first and throw the first punch. It is hard to win in San Antonio. They had a great record here all year.”
I'm sure the Spurs will be ready to throw many punches at Memphis tomorrow night as they look to tie the series before heading on the road.
Many felt the Denver Nuggets would not be the same team as they were with Carmelo Anthony after he was traded to the New York Knicks. However, after the trade, it was Denver that improved with their new pieces such as Wilson Chandler, and Raymond Felton while the Knicks went through an adjustment period and struggled to get things going.
Now Denver's head coach George Karl feels the new-look Nuggets are a lot like the San Antonio Spurs:
I have to say we are a better basketball team only because of our defense. Offensively we would've been a very high caliber offensive team with Melo but the combination of how we played, where we got, and maybe just being together for a long period of time, we had lost our defensive intensity. That falls on my shoulders as much as it falls on Melo’s shoulders. The whole thing comes down when we changed we thought we would improve defensively but we never thought we would be 10 points better defensively. In a very quiet way our team has become what I call kind of a solid San Antonio Spur team. We don’t beat ourselves.
Indeed defense win championships and the Spurs are a testament to that philosophy. Not a bad team to compare your team to Karl.
Through the regular season, the San Antonio Spurs biggest question mark was whether or not they could win in the post season with a six man-frontline that wasn’t even taller than 7’0.
One game into the post season the question mark continues to grow as the Memphis Grizzlies’ two premiere big men combined for 49-points against a four-man Spurs frontline-rotation in Memphis’ 101 to 98 Game One win on Sunday afternoon.
Zach Randolph is 6’9 and weighs 260 pounds. Marc Gasol is 7’1 and weighs 265 pounds.
The closest Spur to come close in weight? 6’9 center DeJuan Blair who weighs in at 270 pounds. Tim Duncan is the second closest at 6’11 and 255 pounds.
It’s no wonder Blair and Duncan looked like the most compatible defensive frontline that could bother the Grizzlies on Sunday. Size is a big part of defending the Memphis duo in the paint.
Duncan and Blair were also key in making the Grizzlies duo rack up fouls. Of Randolph's four fouls, one was on Blair. Gasol ended with five fouls, two were because of Duncan and one because of Blair.
So it’s no coincidence Antonio McDyess (6’10, 245 lbs) and Matt Bonner (6’10, 235 lbs) struggled on defense against the Memphis duo. Randolph and Gasol each outweigh them by almost 30 lbs.
Of Matt Bonner’s three fouls, all three were on Gasol. Three of McDyess’ five fouls were on Randolph.
The numbers tell the story from the game in the frontcourt.
Randolph and Gasol combined: 19-25 FG (76%), 11-18 FT, 23 rebounds, 49 points, four blocks and nine fouls.
Duncan, McDyess, Bonner and Blair combined: 14-31 FG (45%), 10-14 FT, 23 rebounds, 40 points, two blocks and 16 fouls.
To add to the statistics, the Grizzlies won the points in the paint battle with a 40 to 32 edge and shot 55% from the field.
The question now becomes, do the Spurs stick with their game plan in Game Two or give the Brazilian rookie a chance to play?
Game plan A: Stay the Course
The Spurs defensive game plan on Sunday was to allow Duncan and Bonner to play Gasol one-on-one and have McDyess and Blair share time defending Zach Randolph. At the end of the game both Blair and McDyess had five fouls each.
San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili sat out of the Game One loss against the Memphis Grizzlies though he did try to make an attempt at playing this past Sunday.
So while many Spurs fans hope Manu's right elbow is healthy enough for him to play tomorrow night, and help the Spurs tie the series, perhaps this video of Ginobili at practice recently will comfort them: