The Memphis Grizzlies have unexpectedly fallen 0-3 with an overtime loss in Game 3 against the San Antonio Spurs, and they're now faced with the unenviable task of coming back from a hole that no other team in NBA history has accomplished thus far.
Can they be the first team to do so? Probably not.
But that is definitely not impossible. The last two games were tightly contested and ended up in two overtime losses for the Grizzlies. If something small went their way at the end of those games, they could've easily won one of those games and wouldn't be in the hole that they've dug themselves in.
Here's how the Grizzlies can defy the odds.
Shoot the Ball Well
By playing Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan heavy minutes to clog the paint, the Grizzlies have clearly been having trouble scoring inside through Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
In Game 1, the Grizzlies tried to play their usual game, which is to run their offense through their two big men down low. The problem is, the Spurs recognize that the paint is where their most efficient offense comes from, and they have severely limited those opportunities.
Ever since the Grizzlies got blown out in Game 1, they have attempted an average of 6.5 more three-pointers per game in Games 2 and 3, and those two games were much more competitive.
Unfortunately, they weren't able to keep up the shooting efficiency, as they connected on 12 of 37 attempts following Game 1 (per Basketball Reference).
If the Grizzlies want to get back into the series, it will have to start from the perimeter. The Spurs have proven that they could force the Grizzlies to struggle in the interior, so it's the Grizzlies who must adjust.
Sometimes games are decided on shooting the ball, and this series will come down to that. The Grizzlies must make their shots when they're open.
Give Tony Allen More Minutes
I said earlier that the bulk of the Grizzlies' offense will start from the perimeter, and Quincy Pondexter and Jerryd Bayless are the two best perimeter players on the team other than Mike Conley.
However, it has also been their defense on Tony Parker that has been killing the Grizzlies in this series. In Game 1, Parker recorded 20 points and nine assists on an efficient 9-of-14 from the field. He followed that with an 18-assist performance in Game 2 and a 26-point performance in Game 3.
Allen has averaged just 26 minutes of playing time in the last two games, and it's been evident that Lionel Hollins prefers to have Pondexter and Bayless out on the floor for more perimeter offense.
But for the Grizzlies, they have a better chance of winning with their defense than they do with offense, especially if their front-court isn't playing well. Allen is an elite defender, and Parker ran circles around the Grizzlies' defense in all three games so far.
On the other hand, Pondexter's and Bayless' offensive contributions have been inconsistent throughout the playoffs, so they shouldn't be heavily relied upon and play 30 or more minutes in multiple games.
Collapse the Paint
This is the first series in the playoffs where the Grizzlies have had to work hard in the post on defense. Tim Duncan is 37, but he's playing like he's 26, and Tiago Splitter's size has been hurting them on both ends of the floor.
If the Grizzlies want to limit the Spurs' offensive opportunities, they will need to clog the paint and shorten the floor. Gasol and Randolph are big bodies down there as well, but they cannot expect to guard them and be the primary options on offense as well.
Perhaps there needs to be more playing time given to Ed Davis and Darrell Arthur, who have seen a combined total of just 19 minutes in the past two games. Arthur is long and athletic and could provide help against the Spurs' bigs while being able to recover to the perimeter much more quickly.
Davis, on the other hand, could play some more minutes to give Randolph a breather, especially since it looks like he has been exhausted going up and down the court for over 90 minutes in the last two games.
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