The Grizzlies hung on to beat Kevin Durant and his Thunder 98-95 to take the pivotal Game 3 and lead the series 2 games to 1. The L.A. Clippers held on to beat the Golden State Warriors 98-96 in their Game 3. Both were exciting games to watch. The Brooklyn Nets beat the Toronto Raptors 102-98 and they did it in style behind Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce. The Bulls take Game 3 against Washington, 100-97 and so do the Houston Rockets against the Portland Trail Blazers 121-116. So the Pacers win Game 4, 91-88 behind Paul George and it wasn’t easy, because a determined Hawks squad wanted to dismantle a united Pacers team on that night only. The Miami Heat take a 3-0 commanding series lead with a 98-85 victory and they look confident in the first round, knowing that the later rounds will get difficult as time goes on. The Mavericks win Game 3 on Vince Carter’s improbable three-pointer at the buzzer as Dallas wins 109-108 to lead the series against the San Antonio Spurs, 2 games to 1. And, the Oklahoma City Thunder take Game 4 92-89 against a mentally tough Memphis Grizzlies team led by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Is there anyone in the league who can contain these two from getting their points? The San Antonio Spurs have shown that in the past playoffs. The Miami Heat are cruising here, because the first round competition is too easy to handle. The Raptors-Nets series, the Pacers-Hawks series, the Thunder-Grizzlies series, Mavericks-Spurs, and Bulls-Wizards are all very closely competitive contests. The Raptors and Nets are equally talented on paper, however the Nets are more experienced. The Hawks are giving Indiana all they can handle. The Grizzlies and Thunder face off in another showdown, while the Mavericks-Spurs and Bulls-Wizards are very closely played basketball games. Given from the start, the Wizards are showing us they are a very good ball club now against Chicago in these playoff games. The Atlanta Hawks are also showing the world they are a good basketball team against the Indiana Pacers.
The San Antonio Spurs sweep the Memphis Grizzlies in four games. They didn’t let up as the Spurs didn’t give the Grizzlies a chance to succeed against playing these Spurs. Tony Parker exploited every single opportunity the Grizzlies let San Antonio do, because they weren’t expecting the San Antonio Spurs to do. Parker had his way with Memphis as he got in the paint and found his teammates for perimeter shots. There was nothing Memphis could do to stop San Antonio and Tony Parker was the reason why. Putting Tony Allen on Parker couldn’t stop Parker from getting his points or halting the Spurs attack. Mike Conley and Allen were repeatedly put through double screens set by Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, and Tim Duncan and that got Conley committing a silly foul on Tim Duncan fighting through a screen. With that being said and done, the Spurs got inside the Memphis Grizzles’ head and found a way to contain Zach Randolph’s inside play and Marc Gasol’s effective perimeter game. The Spurs found weaknesses and flaws in Memphis’ game plan and it showed. San Antonio exploited it and they made sure of it.
Tim Duncan is the best at what he does. No one can rattle Tim Duncan. Shaquille O’Neal has tried to get under Duncan’s skin. No success. Duncan is the reason why San Antonio has a 2-0 series lead. He makes the Spurs go with his patent bank shot that he makes and the jump hooks and 20-foot jumpers he makes. Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker are hard to contain, when they are making their jump shots and getting whatever kind of layups they are getting in the paint. You also can’t rely on your offense against the San Antonio Spurs, because the Spurs have your offense scouted. They have your best offense scouted to a T and then try to contain your best scorer to limit an amount of points. The Spurs have scouted the play of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and have limited them successfully to doing a number of things. Gregg Popovich is a successful head coach who knows how to play basketball the right way and has treated his best player the same way he has with the twelfth guy on the roster. No one has escaped Popovich’s masterful art of coaching because he has mentored them mentally and has cheered them on from scoring to rebounding to defense and preached everything from getting his hard hat on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs do try and win Games 3 and 4 in Memphis.
The Memphis Grizzlies tried to outlast San Antonio in overtime last night, but failed. What happened? Here’s the low down: San Antonio prevailed, because of its Big Three, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli. Duncan made his shots, Parker made his shots and Ginobli was able to penetrate the Grizzlies’ defense. If Memphis could contain Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli in overtime last time, they would have tied the series at one game apiece. That didn’t happen. I can explain how Memphis stayed in the game last night to send the Spurs into an extra time session. Memphis protected the ball and didn’t turn it over. That helped them stay in the game. They played stifling defense and didn’t allow the Spurs to steal the ball from them. That’s how Memphis clawed back from an 18-point deficit. How did the Spurs have a double-digit lead over Memphis? They passed the ball around and perimeter shooters like Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobli, Matt Bonner, and Tony Parker were able to rush to the spots on the floor and shoot the lights out. Memphis couldn’t adapt to San Antonio Spurs basketball and they couldn’t impose their grit-and-grind style on the Gregg Popovich-coached Spurs squad. Another factor in the Spurs win was their containment of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The Spurs made sure they force another Memphis player to beat them, except for Marc Gasol and Randolph. That’s why the Spurs were able to limit Gasol and Randolph to shots made. Now it’s back to Memphis for Game 3 where the Grizzlies are anxious to take the floor again and this time, the fans are on their side.
The Denver Nuggets ran over the Golden State Warriors 107-100 for the second time in the series. The series lead for the Golden State Warriors is 3-2 and they can close out elimination in Game 6. Memphis beat the L.A. Clippers 103-93 to go up 3-2 and they now have a chance to win and move on to face their opponent in the next round. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were unstoppable. The Memphis Grizzlies’ grinding style halted the Clippers’ run and gun style of play. That’s why Memphis is enjoying their 3-2 series lead.
The Heat need to keep Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph off the boards.
Lebron James and Dwyane Wade need to run and push the ball to play up-tempo.
Neutralize Zach Randolph’s interior post play.
Ray Allen, Norris Cole, Shane Battier, Chris Bosh, Rashard Lewis, and James Jones need open shots for James and Wade to be effective with their passing.
The Memphis Grizzlies send Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors as Tayshaun Prince and Ed Davis and Austin Daye are traded from Detroit to Memphis and Jose Calderon leaves the Raptors for the Detroit Pistons. What a trade! Why did the Grizzlies do this? Apparently, they’re trying to clear cap room and make more money for Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. I think the biggest reason why the Grizzlies are doing this is because of money.
It seems the U.S. basketball program is intent on making its players going to represent basketball players from this country based on talent and athleticism. If that is the case, the Americans will have trouble defending bigger players whose basketball talents lie in the areas of length and size. They will keep running against the world’s best basketball players and if that is the case, the world will take their bigs and take it down low against the Americans where they lack the size against the world. I think the U.S.A. basketball program should rethink organizing and retooling a reinvented basketball team based on length and size. If I were to organize a team against a Spanish team that has the likes of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Jose Calderon, I would like to have a defensive-minded and solid distributing point guard in Rajon Rondo. I would like to have Rondo match up against Jose Calderon. What about Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol, you say? Greg Monroe and Lamar Odom. The Gasol brothers gave the Americans a bunch of headaches and the Americans didn’t like the Gasol brothers patrolling the lane. What about Brazil? Leandro Barbosa against Ty Lawson. The quicker Barbosa is a lot to handle for Lawson. Nene? I’d put the lighter Kevin Durant who is my favorite bench warmer on Nene. Durant on the perimeter will open up the paint for Odom and Monroe, whoever is the 4 or 5. Whatever the thinking the U.S. basketball program has about athleticism, it’s working against the world’s best basketball players, however it has trouble defending and keeping the world’s big post players from scoring the basketball on the inside. They might want to rethink about going with length and size, if that’s what they want to see in their own best basketball players.
Nothing much has changed about the Indiana Pacers, although they have recently acquired D.J. Augustin from the Charlotte Bobcats and Ian Mahinmi. How well will they play after last season’s finish against the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA playoffs? Will Danny Granger get any better? Will Roy Hibbert try and be a better offensive and defensive force?
If you’ve read my previous basketball posts, I am really excited by what the L.A. Clippers have done this summer. They have added Lamar Odom and Grant Hill and acquired Ryan Hollins, Jamal Crawford, and Willie Green. They really can’t and won’t do any harm for them this season, although I regret saying that if they do have had high expectations since last season, they will regress a bit this year.
I really can’t emphasize this any further, but can the L.A. Lakers get any better and bigger by trading for one of the biggest big men in NBA history in Dwight Howard. Steve Nash is also the Lakers’ biggest acquisition too. But one thing that will hold the Lakers back if they don’t win the 2013 NBA title is age.
One of the three characteristics that strike me most about the Memphis Grizzlies is hustle. They have heart and the grind. When they hustle, they really go after it. Tony Allen and Marc Gasol have to be two of the Grizzlies’ best hustle players. It’s really a shame that Memphis let O.J. Mayo go to Dallas in hopes of the Mavericks getting better last season after winning the NBA title two seasons ago.
I really liked how Miami went after Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis this summer. The starting five will give opposing teams field days with a lineup of Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen in the backcourt, Lebron James and Rashard Lewis in the front court and Chris Bosh at center. This star-studded cast of superstars will go after the NBA title again for another year. What will hold the Heat back? Repeating is harder than winning an NBA title for the first time.
The Bucks have an ultra fast back court in Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. They eliminated the slow and fleet footed Andrew Bogut at center and sent him to the Golden State Warriors. What about their defense? It’s nonexistent now.
This was a close game from start until finish. The Americans held on and beat the Spaniards in a tough basketball game. Lebron James was the best player of the tournament. Kevin Durant was the Americans’ leading scorer. The U.S. definitely deserved the victory and the gold medal. Spain really gave the Americans a run for their money. If anything, the U.S. must still prove that they are on top of the basketball world again and again in future basketball events like this. I really thought Spain was going to take this gold medal game. The Americans hung on and kept resisting the Spaniards’ attempt to make it a low-post affair and kept Spain attacking the Americans in the middle where the U.S. lacks size there. For three quarters, the Spanish looked confident playing against the superior Americans at basketball, until Lebron James took over. Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol had their way physically and mentally against the Americans. Juan Carlos Navarro was playing splendidly. Serge Ibaka was tremendously effective. Size helped Spain and it hurt the Americans. The U.S. played well to overcome its own limitations and that’s what did the trick. That’s why they won this game and the gold medal. They played fast and up-tempo and had players like Chris Paul and Lebron James rush the fast break so they can score fast points. That’s game. That’s life.