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No Spurs game can be objectively fun for me because they would be too damned stressful. I have no doubt that the same is true for other teams’ fans. That said, I enjoyed the weekend’s game 1s. The expected boring ones had some drama, and the we had some intrigue in the blow outs.
Our squad turned in a questionable performance into a beat down. Given the quality of the opponent and the general reticence to play this team that always makes things tough (when healthy), it was great news. Tony Parker even responded to the Washed Up narrative that was (rightly) going around. The hope –stated hope — was that the time off between games would allow TP to play at his highest level. No one expects that level to be near the 19 points a game he once put in a night, but he did that anyway. TP went for 18 on 8/13 shooting, looked crisp and sort-of fast.
The Grizzlies couldn’t score after the first — some of those lucky shots weren’t falling — and never got above 19 in a quarter from then on. The Spurs scored 25, 27, 32, 27 and even though they blew it open in the third, they played a consistent offensive game throughout.
Memphis misses Tony Allen but they need scoring, mostly.
A large part of that was thanks to Danny Green, who blocked more shots than he made. MySA reported the Spurs didn’t want to get caught up complaining about the physicality and could have easily helped Memphis steal the game by shooting themselves in the foot. Instead the played Spurs basketball and kicked ass.
In Game 2, Tony Parker made yet another appearance and all the newspaper profiles of him seemed prescient. It is working! He is not washed and Danny Green hit jumpers. Even the inevitably Memphis comeback seemed more the result of veteran NBA players showing pride and chutzpah than anything else. A 2-0 result that everyone felt was good and right and expected. The manner of achievement was about what was expected also. The Grizzlies put up maybe three quarters or so of quality basketball up against the Spurs, but were no match for the fully operational death star.
And then … last night.
Pop was literally right when he said the Spurs were not ready from the first minute of the third quarter on. The squad turned the ball over immediately, and simply couldn’t match the passion of a veteran team wanting to not be swept. Watching Pau get blocked by his brother (and subsequently score) and Patti miss open jumpers, and Tony and Manu look like ghosts of HOFers past might have you thinking the Spurs will never win again.
That is part of the fun of a playoff series. For about two weeks, there are narratives, meta-narratives, and subplots to explore. Much was made about David Fizdale’s rant, and while it probably had some motivating effect, that rant only propelled the Grizzlies to a four point lead in the first half. Take that for data.
If you have watched enough basketball you know that sometimes you have one of those nights. Shaq noticed it on Inside. Kawhi, for as bad a game as he had, managed 18. That tells you a bit about his quality level right now that he can casually have an ineffective 18-point night while Manu and Tony were struggling to look like NBA players. So it goes.
We knew this last couple of years were going to be like this from the other guys and the hope was that LMA and Pau could carry the burden. LMA-as-Spur has been less scoring and more all-around game. While pleasing to see, this was the kind of game where we could have benefited from seeing him carry the squad and put up 40+.
As it is, Zack Randolph had a throwback game and the Spurs couldn’t score. The bright side here? Dejounte Murray was back in playing shape and looked — typical for him – – unafraid. He attacked the hoop in garbage time and scored. Count me among those hoping to see him in some third quarter minutes in Game 4. If Tony is going to be MIA, how much risk is there in putting the rookie out there for some important playoff minutes?