With 1.7 seconds left in the game, Spurs down by three, Coach Pop drew up a gutsy play. With the Spurs needing a three to send the game to overtime you would think the ball would go to three-pointt shooters Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson or the league three-point percentage leader in Matt Bonner.
Nope. Pop put his eggs in his un-drafted rookie's basket. That would be Gary Neal.
With Manu in-bounding the ball and Duncan setting a great screen at the top of the key Neal was able to get free and knock the game tying three point shoot with his quick and high release. That was his only three point make of the game.
As the saying goes, you "live and die by the three." And if there is a series that proves this point, this would most definitely be the one.
Luckily for the Spurs, they end up living tonight.
The Spurs have been the victim of the three-point shot for the majority of the series, especially in games 1 and 3. Both Shane Battier and Zach Randolph hit clutch three-point shots at the end of those games respectively.
It is pretty ironic how this series has played out so far. The Spurs had the best three-point shooting percentage in the NBA. However, they have been absolutely horrendous in this series, especially in their losses. In the playoffs, Matt Bonner is shooting a miserable 27.3% from behind the arc. Even Gary Neal is only shooting 33% from three-point land. Manu and Parker are shooting 27.3% and 20% from downtown respectively.
If you were to ask any sports analysts what one advantage the Grizzlies had over the Spurs it would be their size. However if you look at the Spurs losses, they have heavily out rebounded the Grizzlies. In their win today? They lost the battle of the boards 50 to 45.
What does all this mean? Do the Spurs need to stop shooting threes and not get rebounds?
Of course not.
Stats are stats. There are lies, damned lies and statistics. But eventually I believe the law of averages will catch up. The Spurs are bound to have a break out game where shots will go in. Of course, it will help if these shots are good shots that are wide open and taken by our best shooters.
For instance, take Tony Parker for example. While he has had a miserable first three games, he finally has stepped it up in the last two. He is a three time all-star and former finals MVP. What about Mike Conley, the Memphis point guard? Well he isn't. And Tony needs to take advantage of that and continue his aggressive play the rest of this series. It is our guards that will win this battle with the Grizzlies. Tim Duncan can only do so much and most of his production will need to be on the defensive side of the ball.
The Spurs asked for a miracle tonight and they got one. They are 0-4 at Memphis this year. While another miracle would be nice, it is time to get down to business. Only eight teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit in playoff history. However, the Spurs are a 61 win team. You do not get 61 wins and a number one seed in the playoffs by accident.
If there is a common belief/phrase that the Spurs players and fans have, it is this:
One more year that Tim Duncan can remain at his all-star caliber level.
One more chance to obtain their fifth ring in 11 years.
And most importantly for now,
One more win ties up the series and gives the Spurs home court advantage for the final Game Seven.