Quincy Pondexter is the only Grizzly who’s playing meaningful minutes and shooting at least 30 percent from three-point territory this postseason. As talented as Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are, they’re held back without capable shooters to kick the ball to when the double-team comes.
Memphis got away with starting Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince—designated defenders—on the wings early in the playoffs, but unless it miraculously discovers a burst of outside firepower, San Antonio will coast to the NBA Finals.
Allen and Prince are elite on-ball defenders. Allen is holding opposing shooting guards to a Player Efficiency Ratio (PER) of 11.8 this season, and Prince holds small forwards to a PER of 9.8, according to 82games.com (the league average is 15.0).
However, they’ve combined for just one three-point field goal through the first three games of the series.
When the eighth-seeded Grizzlies shocked the first-seeded Spurs in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, they boasted one particular type of player that they do not now have—a stud perimeter defender who could shoot.
No, not Rudy Gay, but Shane Battier.
Not only did the Spurs shoot just 40.2 percent from the field when Battier was on the court compared to 48.7 when he was off according to NBA.com, but he also nailed six shots from downtown in the series.
Pondexter has had his moments, but those moments haven’t been memorable enough to make up for Mike Conley Jr. and Jerryd Bayless’ woeful shooting from beyond the arc. In Game 3, the point guards finished a combed 3-of-13 from long distance.
San Antonio’s 29 made three-point field goals compared to Memphis’ 17 have been one of the greatest differences in the series. The Grizzlies fought their way further into the playoffs than they ever did with Gay and O.J. Mayo, but they’re missing their shooting ability against the Spurs.
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and a news editor at Wade-O Radio.