On the disappearance of Tony Parker
Let’s say it straight right from the start: the Memphis Grizzlies have completely taken the Spurs out of their game. It isn’t that the Spurs are playing poorly, it’s that the Grizzlies are imposing poor play on the Spurs. Nowhere is this more obvious than the play of Tony Parker.
After Game 3, the Spurs were careful not to lay blame on one another. That is, except for one choice comment from Gregg Popovich. Popovich didn’t name names, but it’s clear Tony Parker was the intended recipient of this comment:
A lot of what a point guard does is decision making. They play boxes and elbows, so they have to adjust to that. We didn’t do a very good job of that. In the third quarter, we had seven turnovers; that was a killer. We played hard for the 24 minutes in the third and fourth quarters but not necessarily well (in the first half). We played hard enough to win a game in the second half. Unfortunately for the first 24 (minutes), we just went through the paces, while they were out there playing their (butts) off.
Tony Parker may have finished Game 4 on 9-12 shooting for 23 points, but that hardly mattered. Parker also finished with 7 turnovers. The Spurs coughed the ball up 17 times in total, leading to 20 points off turnovers for Memphis.
The Grizzlies won by 18 points.
Mike Conley, Parker’s counterpoint, scored 15 points and added seven assists. Conley finished the game with one turnover. With Mike Conley so thoroughly outplaying one of the Spurs’ Big 3, it’s difficult to imagine a positive outcome to the series for the Spurs.
Give Memphis credit, which they deserve ten times over, for forcing San Antonio into turnovers. It’s hard to describe Memphis’ defense, except to say it’s an incredible bother and lovely to watch. The Grizzlies play defense like the Spurs would like to. Tough. Physical. Disciplined. Passionate. The Grizzlies clog the lane and swarm the ball. Watching Tony Parker survive the Grizzlies is like watching a China Cabinet survive an earthquake. It’s inevitable. Stuff goes sideways.
Simply put, when the Grizzlies D-Up, Tony Parker doesn’t know what to do.
It’s not just that Parker turned the ball over. Parker’s passes were rarely on target. The Spurs’ offense has struggled enough of late, and Parker’s play has certainly not helped them right their ship. Parker’s passes were either behind his teammates, too high, too late, too low or too difficult. The Spurs’ starting point guard finished the game with a single assist. Tony Parker has yet to turn in a quality performance against the Grizzlies.
It’s not hyperbole to say the Spurs are in a crisis moment, and not just for the balance of their season. This is a watershed moment for the franchise. The 61 win Spurs are getting dominated by the 8th seeded Grizzlies.