Everyone thought the San Antonio Spurs were going to sweep the Memphis Grizzlies this playoff season – until they played in Memphis. The Spurs fell to the Grizzlies in Game 3 and 4 in Memphis. While Game 3 was a horrible game for the Spurs, Game 4 was an even more aggressive game for the Grizzlies. The Spurs and Grizzlies are now tied up 2-2 which guarantees a Game 6 back on the Grizzlies’ home court.
Of course, playing on your own court with screaming fans all around can make you play a little harder.
After Game 4, Tony Parker said, “Playing at home, they play with a lot more confidence. I have to give them credit. I thought we played well enough to win the game. We made enough plays. But at the end, Memphis made the tough shot to go to overtime and the tough shot to win the game.”
You’ve probably heard everyone talking about the upsetting – but impressive – ending to Game 4, so let’s do a quick recap.
NFL legend, Peyton Manning, wouldn’t miss a great game so he showed up for Game 4. At the start of the game, both teams were off to a good start. With 4 minutes left in the game, the Spurs were on a shooting spree. The Grizzlies tried to catch up and were only down by 3 at the end of the quarter. Both Leonard and Grizzlies’ Mike Conley had scored 9 points for themselves so far.
Tony Parker started the second quarter with 12 straight points for the Spurs. The Grizzlies had 10 fastbreak points by the half, and the Spurs still had none. The Grizzlies were in the lead (55-51) while the Spurs trailed close behind.
During the third quarter, the Spurs started to slowly gain some momentum. The Spurs only had 7 turnovers while the Grizzlies had 14. The Grizzlies’ were still making shots and ended the third quarter staying in the lead with 74-71.
Memphis was up by 10 points with less than 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs made a comeback – or Kawhi Leonard did. Leonard scored 16 consecutive points for his team during the final 5 minutes! In the past 20 postseasons, only Paul Pierce has been able to achieve this feat – but with an even greater score of 18 points in the same amount of time. Leonard brought his team ahead by 2 points with just 12 seconds left on the clock. Conley clutched a floater and tied the game. Leonard got his chance at another three during the last seconds of the fourth quarter, but it was no good. Then, we were headed into overtime.
Both teams were neck and neck and were tied at 100 with 3 minutes left. The Grizzlies’ players started making shots left and right and were up by 4. Leonard seemed to be the only player making shots for the Spurs. With just 17 seconds left in overtime, Leonard hit a 3-pointer and tied the game at 108. With just seconds left, Marc Gasol took control of the ball and nailed a 12-foot floater off one leg to win the game. Aldridge was doing everything he could to guard Gasol without fouling him, but even he said it was just one hell of a shot. Grizzlies came out on top with a 110-108 win and are now tied with the Spurs for the first-round.
Leonard recorded another postseason personal best with 43 points. George Gervin is the only player in franchise history to have scored over 43 points in a playoff game.
Coach Pop said, “Usually, down the stretch, it comes down to making shots. Kawhi made a big shot on our last play. Then Marc made a big shot on their last play. It happens over and over in the playoffs.”
Manu Ginobili hasn’t scored one point in these first four games of the playoffs. If shots really do matter, the Spurs need to be working on their shooting – rather than just relying on Leonard. Leonard says the Spurs really need to improve their defense and can’t let the Grizzlies reach 100 points again.
That appears to be the biggest question: What’s going on with the Spurs’ defense? In the last 2 games, they have had a 111.8 defensive rating. It seems like the Spurs are having a hard time with the Grizzlies’ offense.
Aldridge says the Spurs played much harder in Game 4 than Game 3. Hopefully being back home will make them even more aggressive. It’s been pretty obvious that home court advantage has played to both teams’ benefit this season. However, since Game 3, the Spurs have looked off-balance while Memphis has been stepping up their physicality. Come Game 4, only Leonard and Parker seemed to get themselves back together. We’ll see if the rest of the team can step up again for Game 5.