2011 NBA Playoffs: Ginobili, Spurs Win Game 5, Grading Each Team's Performance
Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Memphis Grizzlies in what was a must-win game for the Spurs. The Grizzlies came into the night 3-1 in the series and were just minutes away from completing one of the biggest upsets in NBA playoff history.
This postseason's number one seed in the West, one of two 60-win teams this season, was within one minute of being eliminated from the playoffs. A 91-87 lead for the Grizzlies would soon be erased , as six points in the last two minutes from Manu Ginobili would pull the Spurs within three points with seconds remaining.
That's when Gary Neal decided to give the Spurs a final push.
A 25-foot three-point shot with time expiring would send the game into overtime, where the Spurs would outscore the Grizzlies by seven and send the series to a Game 6.
Now down 3-2 in the series, fans learned that there is still fight in this San Antonio Spurs team that has seemed especially sluggish this postseason.
Taking out the red pen, here are the grades for each team in the Game 5 thriller.
Spurs Defense: B
Allowing 103 points isn't exactly what head coach Greg Popovich will be pleased with. Yet in the last five minutes, it couldn't have been better.
Tough defense from Tony Parker and the front court suffocated the Grizzlies in overtime, forcing tough shots and uneasy ball movement. The Spurs had nine steals and forces 16 turnovers, with Ginobili owning four of the takeaways.
In overtime the Spurs allowed a mere six points, while scoring 13 of their own. Come time for Game 6, the Spurs will have to amp up the defensive effort in hopes of sending the series home for a Game 7.
Memphis Defense: B+
Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol and forward Zach Randolph were monsters on the glass. The two combined for 28 rebounds, four offensive boards, two blocks, and a steal.
As a result, Spurs veteran and potential Hall of Famer Tim Duncan was out of sync, going five-of-13 from the field in the contest. McDyess was two-of-six shooting, which makes for a combined seven-of-19 performance from the starting power forward and center in the ball game.
The Grizzlies also managed to force 15 turnovers and come up with 12 steals in the contest.
Where they lost the perfect grade was in their fourth quarter and overtime play.
Allowing 45 points in just 17 minutes of play doens't usually make for the most promising of outcomes.
Spurs Bench: A-
Two words: Gary Neal.
Neal was a hero in San Antonio Wednesday night, and may end up being the reason the San Antonio Spurs make a comeback run in the series. His three-point shot with no time left on the clock reversed what would have been a disappointing, embarrassing 4-1 series loss, into five minutes of overtime.
Despite only taking five shots the entire contest, he came up big when he had to for the team.
George Hill was productive on the night, scoring 12 points, grabbing five rebounds, and going six-of-six from the free-throw line. The Spurs bench outscored the Grizzlies bench 30-21 in the contest.
Memphis Bench: C+
A solid 20 minutes from O.J. Mayo was about the only thing the Memphis Grizzlies bench did right in the Game 5 loss to the Spurs.
Aside from Mayo's nine points on three-of-four shooting, two rebounds and two steals, the other bench players combined for five-of-14 shooting on the night. In 34 minutes of play, the most of any bench player for the Grizzlies in the contest, Shane Battier would grab just four rebounds and score six points on two-of-five shooting.
For the Grizzlies it was a game dominated by the starting five, with superb play in the front court from Randolph and Gasol. If the Grizzlies wish to close out the series on the road in Game 6, there will be much needed contribution from Battier and Mayo both offensively and on the glass.
Grevis Vazquez can prove to be a lift off the bench, despite just playing a short 10 minutes in the Game 5 letdown.
Memphis Offense: C+
Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph silences the crowd after a step-back shot that would put the Grizzlies up three with under a minute remaining.
With a B- grade, the Grizzlies were inconsistent like the Spurs, but had a better sense of ball distribution that did the Spurs. Four players took at least 12 shots and percentage wise, the Grizzlies shot two percent better, finishing the game at 47 percent.
The problem with their offense was that they came to play for three quarters, and seemed to lose their confidence, their sense of "swagger," in the last minutes of the fourth quarter and all of overtime.
Spurs Offense: C+
Yeah Tony, it's true, it's hard to figure this one out.
Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs played a tough game throughout, yet failed to ever have much control of the game from an offensive standpoint.
Aside from a hot streak of 45 points scored in the fourth quarter in overtime, the Spurs also did manage to put up only 20 and 15 pints in the first and third quarters. For the game the team shot 45 percent, and turned the ball over 15 times.
Inconsistency offensively has been a problem all series long against the Grizzlies, as their long, athletic play inside and on the perimeter has made life difficult for the Spurs in the half court.
Does Memphis Have the Ability to Actually Take Down the Spurs?
This Memphis team has beaten the Spurs in five of the last eight meetings between the two teams, and still holds a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven playoff series. Watching the series play out, it's inevitable to get the feeling that the Grizzlies may be just the right match-up to beat this Spurs team.
It was made clear in the Game 5 loss that finishing the job, "putting the icing on the cake," is the real issue for this young, inexperienced Memphis Grizzlies team.
With not only the a more talented, productive front court tandem than the Spurs, but arguably the best front court tandem in the postseason, the Grizz are more than capable of pulling off what would be the upset of this 2011 NBA Playoffs.
Will they take down the Spurs?
Probably, yet not without a fight.
Yet the fact that the Spurs were able to make the comeback in the late stages of the game does shift the momentum of the series. With a Game 6 win, the Spurs would take the series back to Texas, where they were 36-5 in the regular season.
Not to mention when you talk about the Spurs, there is also the three-headed monster that comes into play. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili make up a veteran core that owns a plethora of playoff experience. The three have won three NBA championships together, and combined for 433 playoff games played.
Perhaps the series is only beginning.