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.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    I’m excited to see the next act in Tiago’s playoff audition. Z-Bo is such a unique player, can’t really jump over a puddle but is a monster on the glass. He should give Tiago all he can handle but Tiago has mostly risen to the challenge so far. Nene and LMA have been monsters this year and Tiago didn’t back down an inch. He played Nene brilliantly (He obviously knew Nene’s moves from the Brazilian team. Tiago was in perfect position every time Nene tried to spin) and was pretty good against Aldridge. Let’s go get a much needed win tonight.

    Go Spurs Go

  • Mike

    Another loss would suck, but another loss in which they concentrate on defensive rotations and our shooters getting some confidence would be good to see.

    Also, Scott did you mean to say “A couple regular season losses shouldn’t be this big of a deal.” ?

  • Scott

    Yes, a couple of regular season losses aren’t that big a deal. However, we need to know that we can not only play close, but win, as well, against good teams on the road. Memphis will always be tough as long as they have Randolph. Gasol plays his part, as does Battier, but the team goes as does Zach. I do look for some rest with the starters, but with Pop being the psychological master he is, a win in Memphis will erase all the memories from Denver and Portland, therefore demanding that he at least keep key personnel in the game at all times and until the final buzzer. This should be another nail-biter, and I hope that we capture it due to the intensity that’s characterized this road trip. I’m taking the Spurs this afternoon, by a nip, 93-91. Bettors are slightly leaning to the Grizz, though, as the line has moved a half point in the Spurs favor.

  • Titletown99030507d

    GO Tiago! Pop let him play the 4th quarter this time.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Tough match up for Tiago but It’ll be fun to watch. He might be a little quicker than Gasol also, and I hope he gets a lot of PNR action as well not to mention playing time in the 4th. Comon guys get him the ball! Attack the rim everybody! GSG!

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  • Greg

    In Portland Tiago was the best big on the court. If he had more playing time and if we would have gotten him the ball more we would have won by 10

  • Bruno

    Keys:

    1- Pop coaching 100%
    2- Make 3 pointers
    3- Less than 12 turnovers

  • rj

    i expect tiago to draw some offensive fouls on z-bo. i think we can gut out the win, but if we can maintain the number 1 seed through this duncan-less stretch, it will be a success by virtue of witnessing how much we will need splitter in the playoffs. he has been remarkable and has almost made duncan’s injury a short-term benefit for the team.

  • Hobson13

    The two losses in and of themselves weren’t that bad. If the Spurs had played just decent basketball in the final 90 seconds of both games, we would be talking about how good the Spurs look sans Duncan. These losses have been taken hard for two reasons 1 The Spurs SHOULD have won both. 2 The execution in the last two minutes of both games were poor (Denver) and disturbingly horrible (Portland). 3 Manu and Tony have not been good in the clutch.

    With this in mind, it is good to see that Tiago isn’t simply a stiff as some may have feared. The kid can play and be a very good defensive big which is something we desperately need after last year’s series against Phoenix. I’m not bashing Pop because in this case hindsight really is 20/20, but the minutes given to Blair throughout the season would have been better invested if given to Splitter instead. However, there’s still some time to get Tiago’s feet wet.

  • Rafael

    @Hobson13

    Manu made 2 3 points to put Spurs by 4 last game, was 35 seconds to the end and TP lose the ball, Manu was clutch, but the team don’t help so much

  • Mark B

    Splitter’s lack of time before now was mostly due to injuries. Even in healthy, he wouldn’t have gotten big minutes, probably, since Blair and McDyess were ahead of him, but he was out for most of the year. Which is also the reason why his conditioning is lacking. His injuries left him a little out of shape.

    To my untrained eye, he looks better every game, in the sense he doesn’t seem to be tiring as quickly. Hopefully he’ll be near 100% at the beginning of the playoffs, and the extended playing time he’s getting will earn him a bit of game time in the playoffs.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Rafael

    “Manu made 2 3 points to put Spurs by 4 last game, was 35 seconds to the end and TP lose the ball, Manu was clutch, but the team don’t help so much”

    Unfortunately people only remember the final few plays…… One really BAD 3- POINT miss and the TO……..

  • Rafael

    @TD = Best EVER

    96-92, 32 seconds to the end, all Parker need to do is carry the ball to attack. And he lose, 96-94, and Blazzers will have the last possession.
    Parker mistake kill the team.

  • Rafael

    Was 88-86, manu made a 3 point. 93-90, manu made another 3 point. And u tell he isn’t clutch

  • Mark B

    @Rafael:

    Even the greatest players sometimes make mistakes. Since this mistake was at the end of the game it was magnified. I suspect you could find moments like this any player’s career, I’m sure even Michael Jordan even had a bad turnover late in a game a few times in his career, but you remember the winning plays a lot more as time goes on. As noted before, Kobe practically makes a habit of blowing games late, but we remember more when he drills the low percentage shots than when he misses them. But it’s just a regular season game.

    Eight turnovers was a career high for Parker. He had a poor game. He’s been great this year overall, so I’m not going to panic. You could make the argument that Parker is the best player on the Spurs this year. He’s the best small guard I’ve ever seen scoring in the paint.

  • Bruno

    @Mark B

    I am not blaming Parker, just saying, the people talking Ginobili isn’t clutch is ridiculous. Parker is our second best player this year

  • Bruno

    Maybe the first best player

  • Bruno

    @Rafael

    But Ginobili turnover was bad…I think he was waiting for PnR

  • Colin

    Cut the blasphemy………

    Parker and Ginobili have both proven clutch over and over again in their careers.

    Let’s not say otherwise just because they had a couple of timely turnovers in resulted 2 losses.

  • junierizzle

    Two tough losses in two games that could have gone either way. I’ll admit that the Blazer game was more in favor of the Spurs but you know what I mean.

    I’d say the SPURS are due. I’m looking at GHill to have a good game. He stunk up the joint last time in MEMPHIS. I think Ghill picks his game up starting tonight.

  • betsyduncan

    I agree, junierizzle, GHill needs to step it up…beginning with this game!
    GSG!

  • Scott

    We need to know that we can not only play close, but win, as well, against good teams on the road. Memphis will always be tough as long as they have Randolph. Gasol plays his part, as does Battier, but the team goes as does Zach. I do look for some rest with the starters, but with Pop being the psychological master he is, a win in Memphis will erase all the memories from Denver and Portland, therefore demanding that he at least keep one or two key personnel in the game at all times and until the final buzzer. This should be another nail-biter, and I hope that we capture it due to the intensity that’s characterized this road trip. I’m taking the Spurs this afternoon, by a nip, 93-91.

  • Mark B

    Good game from Hill, Blair did some good things. Hate to lose, but it was a good showing without Manu and Tim.

  • Bruno

    No Splitter in 4th= No defense=No victory AGAIN

  • Jeremiah

    So, Randolph goes off on us in the 4th when we put out the Blair/Bonner front court, and when we need defensive stops we put in….Bonner, then Blair, then Bonner? WTF? Did Splitter even play in the 4th?

  • Bruno

    Bruno
    March 27th, 2011 at 9:22 am
    Keys:

    1- Pop coaching 100% = Not complete
    2- Make 3 pointers = Not complete
    3- Less than 12 turnovers = Not complete

    Result = Lost

  • rob

    All I can say is…the last three games in these last three losses in the last 3 minutes when the Spurs are needing interior post presence (both offensively and defensively) their starting big man Tiago is not in the game and allowing “no defense” Bonner to finish the game.

    Yep. Makes lots of sense doesn’t it?

  • DieHardSpur

    You are getting murdered in the paint in the 4th, and Splitter sits… pathetic.

  • BayAreaSpursFan

    What is up with Parker turning the ball over in the last minutes of the game? Getting his pocket picked and stepping out of bounds is just mental errors that can not happen come playoff time. Why did Splitter only play 20 min?

  • Mike

    Since when did Splitter go from trade fodder to apparently the second coming of David Robinson?

  • Rafael

    @BayAreaSpursFan

    Everybody knows last 3 minutes is Manu time. Parker is good playing the others 45

  • Jeremiah

    Mike, no one is suggesting that Splitter is the second coming of DRob, but surely you can admit that he’s a better defender than Bonner or Blair

  • rob

    “Since when did Splitter go from trade fodder to apparently the second coming of David Robinson?”

    No. Not the “second coming”…but definately a better choice that wasn’t made to who they had in the last 3 minutes of these past games.

    If the goal was to “not” try to win…excelllent decision.

  • Mark B

    I’ve never seen Parker get so many shots blocked as he has the last couple of games. I always wondered how he got it through all of the big guys surrrounding him. I guess somebody finally figured it out.

  • DBAGuy

    Well to all the half glass full people, please let me know when I should start to worry about keeping HCA throughout the playoffs? We will need to go 6-3 if the bulls don’t lose to keep HCA, and we still have games against Portland and lakers. Pop is really pissing me off!

  • Rafael

    @DBAGuy I think Pop plan is get #2 seed, beat NOLA, Mavs and take OKC in WCF. Because have no explanation to Pop give up last 3 games in 4th

  • Colin

    Rafael

    “Because have no explanation to Pop give up last 3 games in 4th”

    Poppovich was ejected before halftime. Chill.

  • Mark B

    I don’t think Pop gave up 3 games. We got beat. I don’t think he or the players have it in them to lose intentionally. They might sit some players late in the season in order to rest guys, but I’m guaranteeing the guys on the floor are going to try their best to win the game.

    Memphis is a bad matchup for the Spurs. They have lots of size inside and they can score at will in the paint on them. And they had good 3 pt shooting tonight. They are fighting for a playoff spot, they cant’ give up games to Houston. Even if the Spurs were at full strength, this was a losable gove for the Spurs. Down Tim and Manu, they were doing good to be in it at the end. If the Spurs could buy a call (Bonner got clobbered on a 3 with no call in the 4th, and the play where Manu got injured was clearly a foul on Gasol) it would have been even closer.

    Hopefully LA is going to drop a game or two and reduce the pressure. It would be great to win tomorrow’s game, but I think they’ve got to be favored with two of the big three out.

  • betsyduncan

    I’d like to know how Pop lost this game for us, since he was thrown out of the game? Our ‘cushion’ is getting thinner and thinner, and that bothers me. No sense of urgency. Silly mistakes.
    Honestly, this team needs all hands on deck. It’s just that simple.
    Sure hope Manu is a fast healer!
    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!
    Good effort all the way around, though.
    And GHill needs to build on this performance, for sure!
    Here’s to the Lakers and the ‘Wrecks dropping a few. Or getting bitten by the same injury bug that we have been!
    The JailBlazers are beatable, especially in our House!
    GSG!

  • Rafael

    @betsyduncan

    So think u Splitter can be worse than Bonner on D?
    They score all possesions in last 3:16 minutes.
    Or u think like Pop: Bonner do a good job, Gasol/Z-bo just made his shots.
    Everybody just made his shots over Bonner.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ betsyduncan

    “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”

    +10
    The hack-a-Splitter comment is a good one that I haven’t thought of.

    @ ALL others complaining about Splitters minutes

    I agree he should have gotten some, but to once again throw BLAIR under the bus because of him not playing is just DUMB. When Splitter and the starters were out of the game it was Blair and the subs bringing us back into the game. And to say that Splitter’s Defnse is better that Blair is just as crazy……. At times it is and other times it’s not. Tonight DJB played his ass off on both ends with only a couple of bad plays, and it should have been BONNER that got zero minutes. That’s what you guys don’t understand. Bonner needs to be the 5th big and played only in short stretches, Blair gives you more than one thing………

  • Ryan

    @ Mark B

    Size isn’t a factor if you have your starting center out there to defend. Hell.. if Tiago could just stand there and make Randolph shoot over him, it would be better than what Bonner was doing? And how many offensive boards did Randolph get in that 3 minute span? Like 3 or so? If Tiago grabs just one of those there’s no telling what could’ve happened. This was supposed to be the time where he leaves his mark on this team, but the coaching staff feels he isn’t ready for some reason? When is he ever going to be ready? Next season when it doesn’t matter? C’mon man…

    @betsy

    Off the ball fouls with less than 2 minutes is an automatic team technical and you keep possession. So why they would do that in the time frame that he (Tiago) should’ve been in there isn’t a good idea.

  • Bruno

    @TD = Best EVER(Blair Huge Fan)

    Good D Really?????????????????????????????Everybody shooting over him, but i agree, Bonner is just horrible, he has lucky, i don’t know how still playing in NBA

  • Rafael

    @Ryan

    Bonner played in San Antonio last 4 years, and isn’t ready yet

  • TD = Best EVER

    Bruno
    March 27th, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Nope I’m not a Huge Blair fan, but I do like the way he hustles and has to out work people to get his buckets…… Doesn’t have the size or athleticism as other post players…..

    But to your point of people shooting over the top of him. Yes they did but they did the same to Splitter…… it’s like you don’t watch the game and see Leon Powe scoring on Splitter in the Post. Or Gasol scoring on him and getting him to commit silly fouls……. Splitter is better than I thought but he isn’t TD or even Dice on Defense to stop trying to make him out to be……. He is taller than Blair(sometimes better not always) and is WAY better than Bonner…… SO Bonner should be riding the bench and we should have Splitter/Blair both playing with the 2nd team.

  • TD = Best EVER

    Also what’s up with TP not being able to dribble or make simple passes anymore…… His TO’s are and selfish play are another cause for concern. And I say selfish because he simply refuses to get his teammates involved….. If he has the smallest hole, he is going in and looking to score……All the while teammates go unfeed and are not apart of the game……It’s almost a bad thing when he makes 2-3 shots in a row, because then he will never pass the ball………

  • Mark B

    Blair had his best game in a while tonight.

    And while Tiago ought to be better against big men since he’s taller, tonight he wasn’t. He got a couple of cheap fouls in the first quarter and didn’t stop much of anything since that. As good as his defense was in Portland, it was that bad tonight. Randolph just abused him while he was in the game, at least Blair got a steal or two.

    Splitter’s poor foul shooting is going to cost him mnutes at the end of games. Bonner’s defense is of course terrible, but he was in late to shoot threes. Of course, everybody in the Memphis arena knew that so he didn’t get open.

    OKC just beat Portland, although Portland almost pulled out another miracle finish. On to tomorrow’s game. Hopefully Tiago gets lot of minutes. He did well against Aldridge, hopefully he can repeat that tomorrow.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Ryan,

    Gasol did not score on Tiago the entire time he spent covering him in the third which was a 9 min span. No time again in the 4th quarter for Tiago. We are up by 5 or so with 4 1/2 minutes left in the game instead Pop jr. goes with Blair almost the entire 4th quarter as well as Bonner with a little bit of Dyess in the last 3 minutes of the game. Bonner passes up many shots only to score when he’s all alone. He tried to put the ball on the floor late in the game but no success. Both Blair and Bonner got used by Randolph repeatedly not to mention by Gasol over Bonner at 36 seconds left in the game to make it 101 to 105 Grizz lead while Tiago sits watching the horror. Couldn’t Tiago be inserted at the 5 minute mark and play out the rest of the game to hold off Gasol and help with Randolph? Another heartbreaking loss and yes without Timmy and Manu but Hill did a great job in Manu’s spot. Tony did well most of the game. But then again turn overs, errors, missed shots, some bad calls add the great front court play of Gasol and Randolph mix all that together and another heartbreaking close loss at the end again. One thing I can say though our guys played with lots of heart even with the disadvantages. When Timmy gets back this team I believe will do a 180 and return to normalcy. Didn’t realize how much old Timmy means to this club. Man get well soon Timmy and Manu.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @betsyduncan,

    “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!”

    Read my post above.

    Plus, Let them hack Splitter all night long those free throws will go down eventually and someone is going to sit for those fouls too.