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.