Spurs-Grizzlies Game 3: Memphis' last stand?

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

A preview of Saturday night's Game 3 of the Western Conference finals between the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs.

1. Where We Are: Now or never for the Memphis Grizzlies. Win the next two games, and it doesn't matter how embarrassing Game 1 was for them or how heartbreaking Game 2 was. But lose either of them, and the series is effectively over, even if it isn't technically. No team is coming back from down 0-3, especially not against these Spurs.

The Grizzlies have been flummoxed, spun around and left in awe of the attack by San Antonio and came away from their Game 2 comeback not encouraged by their ability to play with the Spurs, instead disheartened that they had a chance and still couldn't steal it. Trying to establish where their heads are is odd.

For the Spurs, it's the same thing that it always is. Go out, execute, win. Take care of this one, and there's a good chance that they could wind up with a week or more of rest before the Finals. They can step on the throat Saturday night.

2. The Big Number: -27.3 vs. -4.3. That's the plus/minus of the Grizzlies with Quincy Pondexter off the court vs. on per 48 minutes in this series. Now, they were still outscored by 4.3 per 48 with Pondexter on, but they're dying a fast death with Tayshaun Prince on. Lionel Hollins reiterated Friday that there would be no change in the starting lineup.

That means Prince will go again, and that means Hollins will likely have to call time out quickly to gain the upper hand, because Prince has been unable to knock down the shots that they need. Pondexter might be their only hope to adequately spread the floor.

3. Key Adjustment: The Grizzlies talked this week about employing a full-court press to try to slow Tony Parker. Hollins said Friday that the risk there is you pick up fouls, which Parker is very good at drawing. But they Grizzlies can't survive with Parker screaming up court on every possession and ripping through their defense for the drive and kick. If they don't keep the Spurs in front of them, this series is going to end in short order.

4. The Big Story: Well, Parker got denied a special table at a Memphis restaurant that was full up because he didn't have a reservation. That's a story?

The lack of a story in this series is the story. There's nothing compelling about it, less so because of the markets and more because there's nothing compelling about San Antonio and the Grizzlies have too much respect for them to cause any drama. Let's be clear: the Spurs have a fantastic basketball team that executes perfectly and plays the most consistently disciplined brand of ball in the league, maybe in all of sports. But there are only so many ways you can write that, especially given the Spurs' draconian approach to public relations. (Being in a Popovich scrum is one of the singular most uncomfortable things that you'll ever experience. No one wants to say anything, but people feel like they should, then immediately regret it.)

And the Grizzlies have admitted that they honestly lack the ability to find extra motivation to play San Antonio. They want to win; it's the Western Conference finals. But there's nothing to make them mad like there was with the Clippers and Thunder. The Spurs are classy and excellent.

They're boring the Grizzlies to death.

5. The Facts: 9 p.m. ET tipoff. Parker is expected to play with a bruised calf.

 
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