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 win.
After stealing Game 1 in San Antonio, the Memphis Grizzles come back to the FedEx Forum looking to take the series lead from the number one seeded Spurs. If they want to win, they are going to have to do a few things differently in Game 3 than Game 2:
Offense: Better Shot Selection
According to Synergy Sport Technology, the Memphis Grizzlies took 23 jump shots in Game 2. 56.5%, or 13, of those jump shots were guarded while just 10 were considered open. For Memphis, the difference between guarded and open was huge, with the Grizzlies shooting 50% (5/10), scoring 11 points (1.10 PPP), on open jumpers. Meanwhile, when guarded, the Grizzlies shot 30.8% (4/13) scoring just 9 points (0.69 PPP). While some of these contested shots were due to the Spurs and their ability to close out, some of it was due to poor offense and shot selection from Memphis.
Here, the ball goes to Tony Allen, who instead of driving and kicking quickly or taking a pull up jumper, tries to penetrate. The Spurs do a very good job of cutting Allen off, but instead of pulling it out, he continues to try and find a seem. Eventually, he is forced to kick it out to Shane Battier, but by now there is only 3 seconds left on the shot clock and Battier is forced to throw up a contested jumper that misses the rim completely.
This is a pretty good example of what I am talking about when I say poor shot selection. Here, the Grizzlies are bringing the ball up in transition with O.J. Mayo streaking down the sideline. Greivis Vasquez doesn't attack enough and kicks it to the corner. Because he kicks it out from behind the free throw line, the defense isn't sucked in and Mayo is well defended. Instead of throwing a pump fake and trying to penetrate, Mayo settles for the contested three point shot that he misses.
Like just about any other NBA player, the Grizzlies are better shooters when they are able to get themselves open jumpers. They need to keep the ball moving and make the right plays to ensure they get a few more open looks in Game 3.
Defense: Defending The Roll Man Better
In Game 2, the San Antonio Spurs ran eight pick and rolls where they ended up hitting the roll man. On these rolls, the Spurs were able to score 8 points on 4-6 shooting (the other two possessions ended in turnover and with a non-shooting foul), which was good for 67%. During the course of the regular season, the Grizzlies held opponents to just 50.9% shooting on plays where the roll man is hit. This jump in Game 2 was due to poor rotations made by the Grizzlies.
After winning the tip, the Spurs get the ball to the wing where they are looking to set up a pick and roll with Tony Parker as the ball handler and Tim Duncan as the screener. Parker uses the screen and he hits Duncan on the roll. Zach Randolph initially does a very good job rotating, but he doesn't contest fully and Duncan is able to hit the little jumper. The reason why Randolph doesn't commit to Duncan completely? Because he knows Antonio McDyess (Randolph's original man) is open with nobody rotating to him. Randolph is trying to defend two Spurs in the paint by himself, and that is a recipe for disaster.
On this play, the Spurs use misdirection to get the basketball to the roll man on the pick and roll. Again, Parker is the ball handler while Duncan is the screener. Parker comes off of the screen, and again, the initial rotation is strong from Zach Randolph as he cuts off Duncan perfectly. This forces Parker to pass it to Randolph's man, McDyess. With the ball going to McDyess in the paint, Randolph needs to return to him. When this happens, Duncan is open for the easy pass and finish. Duncan is open because Marc Gasol doesn't return to Duncan quick enough after hedging on Parker. Gasol gets caught watching the ball, and he doesn't get to Duncan in time.
A lot of the Spurs offense revolves around the pick and roll and if the Grizzlies are unable to get their rotations down, they are going to struggle defensively in Game 3.
For more, check out SB Nation's Grizzlies blog, Straight Outta Vancouver.