Advanced Scouting: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies – It’s really not that bad

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San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies 5:00 CST March 27, 2011

The Spurs try to lick their wounds as they travel to Memphis tonight. Memphis will be without Rudy Gay for the remainder of the season, but have continued to play respectably well and are in the thick of a playoff hunt. After two consecutive losses to the Nuggets and Trail Blazers, San Antonio is 0-2 since Duncan went down with an injury. Both losses came after the Spurs surrendered leads deep into the fourth quarter. I sense that some are panicking.

Cause for concern?

Two losses and the Spurs are reeling? I don’t think so. Did the Spurs play perfect? No. However, I came away with a slightly more optimistic view of the Spurs chances in the playoffs after these two losses. Here are a few reasons:

  • They weren’t playoff games. A loss has little resounding impact.
  • It’s only 2 games. Beating out the Lakers is both very likely and only modestly important.
  • The losses were by a combined 5 points.
  • Both were road games against good teams.
  • Guarding bigs was a concern for the Spurs, but they held two elite power forwards in Nene and Aldridge to 22 points in 77 minutes. Splitter and McDyess generally played well.
  • Tim Duncan didn’t play and is presumably healing up for a lengthy playoff run.

Ok, so Parker’s 8 turnovers weren’t a positive. Neither was the end of game execution. But I have confidence that both will get sorted out in plenty of time before the playoffs. Obviously, the Spurs will need to get more accustomed to losses along the way as they will be playing without Duncan and resting the starters. Clearly, some losses should also be expected in the playoffs too. A couple regular season losses should be this big of a deal.

What’s different about Memphis

Rudy Gay has been unable to play in each of the prior matchups against San Antonio, so Memphis’ roster will be similar to prior meetings against the Spurs.  The Spurs loss to Memphis came without the benefit of Tony Parker. Now they will have to play without Duncan. Here is a look at my scouting report on the Grizzlies prior to their first and second game.

Similar to several top Western conference opponents, Memphis has a couple effective big men. Marc Gasol has play limited minutes lately, but his efficiency and per minute production has improved in these minutes. Randolph has cooled off a bit, but he is always a tough cover in the post and an absolute beast on the boards. He has grabbed 24 offensive rebounds in the three prior meetings.
Memphis also has a couple excellent perimeter defenders in Tony Allen and Shane Battier. They could make penetration difficult. The Grizzlies greatest defensive weakness is allowing three point attempts (They also struggle creating them offensively). Astoundingly, Memphis has allowed nearly twice as many threes (535) as they have scored (271). Setting up the three can come at a cost, however. The Grizzlies lead the league in steals and forced turnovers. Memphis forces a high rate of both passing and ballhandling steals. Tony Allen is the Grizzlies most disruptive defender, but every perimeter player is a threat to force turnovers.

The keys to this game will be boxing out Randolph, setting up high percentage threes and protecting the ball.

Key Statistics

SRS ranks:

Memphis: 2.14 (10th)
San Antonio: 6.19 (3rd)

Player summary statistics from basketball-reference.com and basketballvalue.com:

Memphis Grizzlies Spurs Player Ratings 3-26

PlayerGMPGUSG%OrtgDRtgWS/482 Yr APM
Rudy Gay5439.923.21081050.1212.9
Zach Randolph6836.525.11141050.173-1.6
Mike Conley7335.519.61081070.10910.1
Marc Gasol7231.916.91121040.137-5.2
O.J. Mayo6226.921.31011080.056-1.9
Shane Battier1424.49.81041060.0713
Darrell Arthur7120.421.31081050.12-4.2
Tony Allen6519.5201091010.1470.8
Sam Young6919.416.91051060.0850.5
Greivis Vasquez6112.217961090.0250.9
Leon Powe710.625.21491060.38N/A

San Antonio Spurs Player Ratings 3-26

PlayerGMPGUSG%OrtgDRtgWS/482 Yr APM
Tony Parker7032.525.21131070.16-0.1
Manu Ginobili7230.926.41161040.2015.2
Richard Jefferson7130.615.41151080.116-0.8
Tim Duncan6928.322.91101000.1676.2
George Hill6628.117.61141070.128-2
DeJuan Blair7121.820.11061000.136-0.9
Matt Bonner5621.612.91291070.1583.7
Gary Neal7020.720.61091080.102-2.1
Antonio McDyess6618.514.91051030.1073.1
Tiago Splitter511217.21121020.149N/A
James Anderson2110.815.61121100.093N/A
Steve Novak167.816.81491080.249N/A

Player trends, based on Efficiency per 48 minutes:

Memphis Grizzlies Spurs Player Trends 3-26

PlayerSeasonLast 10Increase
Zach Randolph31.731.80.1
Marc Gasol25.132.57.4
Mike Conley21.420.1-1.3
Tony Allen23.426.63.2
Darrell Arthur24.528.74.2
Sam Young1717.80.8
O.J. Mayo16.116.10
Leon Powe36.536.50
Shane Battier14.915.80.9
Greivis Vasquez1623.57.5

San Antonio Spurs Player Trends 3-26

PlayerSeasonLast 10Increase
Tiago Splitter23.730.66.9
Steve Novak27.733.45.7
James Anderson14.618.74.1
Gary Neal18.819.91.1
Antonio McDyess23.323.80.5
Tim Duncan32.7330.3
DeJuan Blair27.927.1-0.8
Manu Ginobili28.527.6-0.9
Tony Parker2725.4-1.6
George Hill21.918.7-3.2
Richard Jefferson17.714.3-3.4
Matt Bonner20.216.2-4

Lineup data
Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Grizzlies:
Conley, Mayo, Gay, Randolph, Gasol +68 in 666 minutes (+1.1 per 100 possessions)
Conley, Young, Gay, Randolph, Gasol +122 in 607 minutes (+9.2 per 100)
Conley, Allen, Young, Randolph, Gasol +66 in 560 minutes (+8.2 per 100)
Conley, Mayo, Battier, Aurthur, Randolph +60 in 136 minutes (+46.6 per 100)

Spurs:
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, Blair, Duncan +147 in 669 minutes (+10.4 per 100)
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, McDyess, Duncan +29 in 147 minutes (+10.2 per 100)
Hill, Neal, Ginobili, Bonner, McDyess +67 in 105 minutes (+35.3 per 100)
Parker, Hill, Ginobili, Bonner, Duncan +49 in 55 minutes (+39.0 per 100)
Hill, Neal, Ginobili, Bonner, Splitter +22 in 33 minutes (+33.9 per 100)
Hill, Ginobili and Bonner consistently show up in the Spurs best lineups.

The Pick

Memphis, because there’s a chance Parker or Ginobili get extra rest

The Spurs are good without Duncan (+3.5 per 100 possessions), but not elite. This means that an average team would present a difficult challenge on their home court. The Grizzlies are an above average team, even without Rudy Gay. I would favor the Spurs slightly, but tomorrow night is a back-to-back, so it is possible Pop gives Manu and/or Parker some rest.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @betsyduncan,

    I’d rather have someone who goes 1 for 2 on free throws and plays hard ass defense than someone who cannot play defense at all and is afraid to shoot the ball!

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Mark B,

    Gasol didn’t score on Tiago the entire 9 minutes of the third quarter he spent on the court guarding him. Blair got abuse by Randolph and Gasol in the 4th when Pop jr decided to go with him the entire 4th as the big except for the last 3 minutes when Dyess came in with you guessed it everybody’s other favorite Bonner!

    I don’t care what anybody says your not giving yourself a chance to win late in the game if your allowing the opposition to tear up the lane at will. And don’t blame Tiago for that because he wasn’t in there the whole 4th quarter. DVR dont lie.

  • rob

    “And all this moaning about Tiago is irritating! The man can’t hit free throws. Don’t you think that maybe he isn’t in there because of the possibility of ‘hack-a-Splitter’? Jeez!”

    It’s not about if Splitter can hit his free throws. It’s about having the best possible interior defenders in a game when the opposing team is having their way in the post. Besides that…the team did NOT need scoring…they needed to DEFEND a lead.

    Bonner IS NOT that option and a better option is sitting on the bench…Splitter.

    Doesn’t mean the game would be won…it just means the best option was not being used to give the team it’s best chance to win.

  • Mark B

    Bonner came in late when the Spurs were behind. Different situation than the Portland game when they were ahead and needed defense. I don’t remember Grizzlies milking the inside game in the 3rd quarter like they did the other 3 quarters, but I could be wrong.

    Marc Gasol shouldn’t be scoring a ton of points on anybody. He’s not Pau. But he was beating Tiago in the first half pretty badly. I guess he was contained in the third, in which the Spurs closed the gap from 6 to 2 pts.

    Truth is, in order to win a game on the road in the NBA you need to be ahead going into the last minute. I need to find the study, but I’ve seen statistics that most of home court advantage in the NBA is attributable to the home team getting the calls. When the Grizzlies tied it up with 3 minutes to go, I was pretty sure the Spurs were going to need a couple of great shots to win it. Bonner was in to do that and he didn’t deliver.

    We’ll see what happens in the playoffs. I’m just about ready to write off the rest of the regular season. At this point, rest the starters and don’t even worry about HCA.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    This team is facing a ton of adversity but I feel that they will be fine.

    It makes me sick the WAY that they have lost these last 3 games because of the lack of execution and poise…..this is something that the Spurs have been so good at this season.

    The best cure would be to kick Portland’s ass tonight.