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.