Memphis Grizzlies 101, San Antonio Spurs 98: There have been three turnovers since you started reading this headline
The San Antonio Spurs went in the Friday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies on a two-game slide. No record-wise, mind you, the Spurs won their last game against the Los Angeles Lakers, but a two-game slide in which you would be hard-pressed to convince someone that the team got better.
In the end, the Spurs fell to the Grizzlies in overtime 101-98, and you’d have to build a strong case to say the Spurs got better after this one as well. The Spurs got down by as many as 12 points in the second half, but forced overtime on a buzzer-beating 3 from Tony Parker.
In overtime, the Spurs shot 1-0f-10 from the field, the team’s only basket coming a Parker 3 on the third possession of OT, and were outscored 6-3.
That wasn’t the disturbing part of the game, though. What’s concerning is that this team continues to give up the ball. The Spurs committed 18 turnovers against the Grizzlies, making that a cool 56 in the last three games combined. Tim Duncan, obviously a big man without a whole lot of ball handling duties, had six against Memphis and racked up 14 in the last three contests.
While the Spurs have had a decent output offensively over those three games — other than maybe Monday night against New Orleans — the turnovers sabotaged the rest of the Spurs’ gameplan. We’ve seen the Spurs have high-turnover games before. It happens from time-to-time with their offense. Everything has to be in-sync, but if it isn’t, there’s a chance that the Spurs can go through these performances where they give the ball up.
Big, physical teams like the Grizzlies are able to get the Spurs out of their rhythm with regularity and that, in turn, can lead to high-turnover games.
The Grizzlies are so big and strong that they can knock opponents off balance without having to foul. When you’re a team like the Spurs, that relies so much on timing, rhythm and shooting — a finesse team if you want to get derogatory — balance is a pretty important thing.
Think, for instance, of simply pushing someone. If you’re not strong enough, you have to fully extend your arms to push someone off balance. In a basketball game, that’s an easy foul to call. But if you can get the same amount of force with less effort overall, you can get away with far more.
That’s what the Grizzlies are able to do and the ability extends to boxing out, fighting for post position, and pressuring shooters. NBA referees oftentimes make calls based on how an offensive player reacts to contact, but also make calls based on how much defenders extend themselves.
The Grizzlies don’t extend themselves much, and that enables them to be an incredibly physical team. The only way they’re starting frontcourt could be more physically imposing is if LeBron James started at small forward for them instead of Rudy Gay.
Because of all this, they matchup well with the Spurs. San Antonio can still, and have, overcome the Grizzlies. But it remains a difficult matchup for the Spurs. Friday night’s game against Memphis just highlighted some of the problems the Spurs are temporarily facing and those which will always be a problem.
Stats courtesy of NBA.com/Stats