Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images
Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images
The San Antonio Spurs are one victory away from returning to the NBA Finals – the first time since 2007. On Saturday, May 25, the Silver and Black entered the “Grind House,” an arena the Spurs haven’t won in all season, and beat the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime, 104-93.
But before the Spurs could claim a decisive and commanding victory over the Grizzles, San Antonio had the difficult task of surmounting an early 18-point first quarter lead by Memphis.
“We had maybe eight turnovers in the first quarter. It looked like those five guys (the starters) had been asleep since Tuesday, and so we thought we might as well get five different bodies out there and at least start to compete and not be as sloppy as that group looked,” said San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.
The Memphis Grizzlies, arguably the best defensive team in the NBA this season, forced the Spurs to turn over the basketball eight times in the first quarter, five of which were steals from Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley. The Spurs trailed the Grizzlies 29-13 heading in the second quarter.
“Turnovers. Turnovers,” was the main contributing factor for the Spurs poor start said Popovich.
The Spurs shot only 21.1 percent from the field in the first quarter (4-for-19), but they rebounded in the second quarter shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17). The hot shooting allowed San Antonio to cut the Grizzlies deficit 44-40 by the half.
At the start of the third quarter, the Spurs came to within two points of the Grizzles’ lead, but Memphis went on another scoring run to push their lead back to 61-52. But the Spurs stayed focused and answered with a 12-4 scoring run, and at the end of the third quarter the Grizzlies led 65-64.
In the fourth quarter that consisted of 10 lead changes, both teams had opportunities to win the game. With 29.9 seconds left tied at 86-all, Manu Ginobili missed a 3-point shot and gave the Grizzlies one last chance for victory. But Conley missed a last second layup forcing the Spurs to play in their fourth overtime game in the playoffs and second of the Western Conference Finals.
In overtime, the Spurs were too determined not to win the game. Spurs forward Tim Duncan, scored six of his team’s eight points in overtime. Duncan finished the game with 24 points and 11 rebounds – his 144 career playoff double-double – second to only Magic Johnson’s 157 in NBA history. And in addition, the Spurs’ “Big Three” contributed as Tony Parker the led the Spurs in scoring with 26 points and Ginobili scored 19 of his own.
The Memphis Grizzlies missed a key opportunity to beat the San Antonio Spurs and possibly even the series up on Monday.
“Yeah, it is frustrating, but it gives us hope at the same time, knowing that we can fight our way back, and we have had chances to win each one of these games. This one was a tough one to swallow. But it’s a good learning lesson, and there’s no group of guys I’d rather be with down 3-0 to try to fight back in it,” said Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley.
The San Antonio Spurs will try for the clean sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, May 27. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.