Spurs-Grizzlies Game 4 Preview: Spurs look to complete the sweep
A preview of Monday night's all-important Game 4 of the Western Conference finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies.
1. Where We Are: The Memphis Grizzlies have put up valiant efforts in Game 2 and Game 3 to try to take control of this series from the San Antonio Spurs, but they were unable to win either game. As a result, the Spurs are up 3-0 and looking to complete a Western Conference finals sweep for the first time since they were swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001. The last two victories for the Spurs have come in overtime, so the series could have been a lot different. The Grizzlies have had plenty of chances to win games. If Memphis could have figured out how to execute and close games, this series could have been great. Instead, they've fallen short and it might be over way too early.
2. The Big Number: 41.4. The Grizzlies have made just 41.4 percent of their shots in the restricted area through the first three games. The team that was supposed to be too much to handle inside for the Spurs has not only been handled in the paint, but they've been dominated. They've been outscored 128-112 in the paint, primarily because they've missed so many bunnies around the basket. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have combined to shoot just 21 of 52 (40.3 percent) inside the restricted area, unable to complete hooks and tip-in shots through this series. The duo that is supposed to carry the Grizzlies with their play inside has been completely shut down by Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and the help defenders of San Antonio.
3. Key Adjustment: Swing the ball from side-to-side as the big man re-posts. There has to be a good way for the Grizzlies to get the Spurs' defense out of position. Instead of using it to get corner 3-point opportunities, Memphis could swing the ball from one side of the half court to the other wing/corner to get the defense moving and get the big men space to establish deep post position. Straight post-ups by the big men are much easier to defend because everything is so stagnant in the process of making sure the lob into the post doesn't get picked off or deflected. It allows the Spurs to set up. The way to beat their defensive positioning is get it moving side-to-side to allow proper space to naturally manifest. We saw this a few times in Game 3 and it usually got Memphis great position. But they still have to find a way to make the Spurs pay inside by converting these opportunities.
4. The Big Story: The Spurs' return to the Finals. No team has ever come back to win a series when they're down 0-3, so it's probably safe to assume the Grizzlies won't come back and be the first. If that's true, San Antonio will be in the Finals for the fifth time in the Tim Duncan era, giving him a chance to win his fifth ring and put his franchise and himself even deeper into the all-time ranks. The Spurs' plan for building and creating a program of sustainability has been something refreshing in this era of superstars dictating which coaches and executives cater to their needs. We don't know how many titles it will take for the Spurs to win before the majority of organizations decide to try this route, but we do know that the anomaly that is the Spurs continues to produce results.
5. The Facts: 9 p.m. ET tipoff. Both teams are assumed to be healthy for Game 4.
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