The San Antonio Spurs are on the brink of their first NBA Finals since 2007, and they will look to finish off the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday at the FedExForum.
The Spurs appeared in danger of letting the Grizzlies back in the series early in Game 3, falling behind by 18 in the first quarter. But things quickly turned around in the second quarter, and the deficit was just four at halftime. The game remained close the rest of the way, with the game going to overtime after Mike Conley missed a shot as time expired.
Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter dominated the overtime period, with the two big men combining for 13 of the Spurs' 18 points to grab a 104-93 victory. Duncan had 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the game.
After such a demoralizing loss, the Grizzles could fold and go out quietly. But Memphis has shown resiliency in these playoffs before, so expect them to fight until the very end. Let's take a closer look at three key questions heading into Game 4.
Can the Grizzlies' defense return to form?
Memphis had arguably the best defense in the NBA all season, allowing a league-best 89.3 points per game. But the Grizzlies' defense has had some struggles against a high-powered Spurs attack. In Game 1, San Antonio shot 52.9 percent and made 14-of-29 from three. In Game 3, San Antonio shot 50.0 percent from the field.
If Memphis is going to have any chance at getting back in this series, their defense will have to return to form. The Grizzlies' offense is not good enough to survive shootouts against the Spurs, so they need to tighten up the defense and keep the score down.
Who wins the battle down low?
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph both had double-doubles in Game 3, but they combined to shoot just 12-of-32. Meanwhile, Duncan was dominant and Splitter stepped up big in the overtime. For the game, the Spurs won the points in the paint battle, 58-42, and out-rebounded the Grizzlies, 50-48, despite Memphis grabbing 19 offensive boards.
The Grizzlies' frontcourt has been a strength all year, so it can't afford to get outplayed by the Spurs' bigs. Gasol and Randolph must be more efficient offensively, and they must not allow Duncan and Splitter to shoot a combined 16-of-24 from the field again.
Does good Manu Ginobili show up again?
The Spurs' veteran shooting guard has been up-and-down this year, but he put forth one of his best performances of the postseason in Game 3. Ginobili had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists while shooting 5-of-9 from the field. He took eight trips to the free throw line, making seven of them. When Ginobili, Duncan and Tony Parker are all playing well, San Antonio is awfully tough to beat.
Game time: 9 p.m. ET
Odds: The Grizzlies are 3-point favorites, according to OddsShark.