Each day, we are going to preview the night's NBA Playoffs action by looking at the adjustments that can be made by the losing team and showing what they can do to get the win.
Maybe the biggest shock of round one's first set of games was the San Antonio Spurs losing to the Memphis Grizzlies this past Sunday. Even without Manu Ginobili, this should have been a game that the Spurs won, and they could have won it if they would have done a few things differently. They are going to have to make these changes if they want even up the series tonight.
Offense: Kick The Ball To The Corner
The Spurs were able to put together one of the league's best offenses by taking advantage of their ability to shoot the three-point shot, especially from the corner. One of their favorite ways to set up the corner three is to work the pick-and-roll game, force the defense to sink in, and then kick the ball out to the corner. The Spurs abandoned this strategy in Game 1:
For the game, the Spurs only attempted four threes from the corner, which is much lower than what they have done over the course of the regular season. So how did this happen?
Here, Tony Parker comes off of the screen and gets into the paint. Once in the paint, Parker takes a little floater that he misses. This isn't a terrible shot, but it isn't the Spurs' offense. Normally, the ball gets kicked to Jefferson in the corner (who is open on this play) and Jefferson knocks down the three-point shot.
Once again, we have the Spurs running another pick-and-roll. This time, Parker gets the basketball to DeJaun Blair who goes up for the lay-up but misses. Again, he has a chance to kick it out to the corner for an open three.
Finally, we have Tim Duncan in basically the same position as Blair was in the previous clip. One thing Duncan has been very good at all season is taking that pass as the roll man and immediately kicking it out to the corner without even looking at the rim. That quick touch pass is what got most of those corner threes. Here however, Duncan takes a lay-up that he misses instead of kicking it out to the corner.
When the Spurs stuck to the offensive system, they were able to get good looks against the Grizzlies:
This is the Spurs' offense. Run a pick-and-roll, try to get the ball in the middle, and when the defense collapses, kick it to the corner for the open three. Parker misses the three, but these are the open looks that the Spurs need to get. They didn't get enough of them in Game 1, and if it happens again in Game 2, they might get beat again.
Defense: Double The Post
We knew going into the series that the Spurs were going to struggle with the Grizzlies and their post offense. The Spurs have one good defender in Tim Duncan, but their second post defender (DeJuan Blair/Matt Bonner) was at a mismatch. The Grizzlies were able to take advantage in the post during Game 1, scoring 30 points on 23 post chances, good for a PPP of 1.28. However, when the defense committed a second defender, the Grizzlies only scored three points off of it. The problem with this is that the Spurs only did it five times.
Here, the Grizzlies eventually get the basketball to Zach Randolph in the post. Once the pass gets made, Tony Parker leaves the passer, Mike Conley, and doubles down on Randolph. This forces Randolph to kick the basketball out to Conley who misses the contested three.
The reason why doubling down on the post works is because the Grizzlies are the worst spot-up shooting team in the league, and the double team takes them from doing something they are really good at doing and forces them to something they are not very good at doing. If the Spurs want to stop Randolph/Gasol, they are going to need to send doubles and live with the Grizzlies taking shots on the outside.