Five quick thoughts: Why the Grizzlies looked so inexperienced

So this is what a playoff-seasoned team is supposed to be able to accomplish against an opposing team playing in its first playoff series together?

The Spurs did a better job of flummoxing the young Memphis team as they didn’t look nearly as composed in Game 2 as they did in Sunday’s playoff opener. The result was San Antonio’s 93-87 victory that evened the best-of-7 series at a game apiece.

Unlike the first game, Memphis struggled getting the ball inside Wednesday to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. And Tony Allen gift-wrapped two inbounds passes that turned into easy baskets and fueled the Spurs’ run in the third quarter.

Memphis guard Mike Conley said the Grizzlies’ lack of playoff experience hurt them down the stretch as they were unable to get the ball to Randolph.

“I think it could have, I think they did a good job of taking Zach away,” Conley said. “You know that our first option to get the ball down to our big feellow and they also did a good job of front Marc and double-teaming and taking our first options away. I think we were just a bit too impatient especially in that fourth quarter.”

But Memphis coach Lionel Hollins wasn’t ready to use his team’s playoff inexperience as a crutch.

“It was just bad decisions,” Hollins said. “Everybody wants to bail the team out for inexperience, it’s just bad decisions. We’ve played all year long, we’ve taken good shots and in certain games we’ve taken bad shots because we are not in character. We just forget who we are sometimes.”

Young team will do that in the playoffs. The Grizzlies will be better when they collective mature.

But it was the difference in the game Wednesday night and the major reason why the Spurs were able to escape with a crucial victory to even the series.

Here are four other quick takes that helped the Spurs push Memphis’ franchise record in playoff games to 1-13.

1. Manu Ginobili didn’t score much early, but his value was shown by a boatload of other plays early in the game that showed his value. He grappled with Shane Battier for a loose ball. There was a scrambling for rebounds, eventually grabbing four in the quarter. He missed his only shot but still got to the foul line twice. It was like a surge of momentum through the team and got a crowd involved from the opening tip. And it was also the best indicator of what he regularly brings the team and what the Spurs were missing in Game 1.

2. Even considering he missed a game-tying 3-pointer at the end of Game 1, Richard Jefferson has been a productive player so far in the playoffs. He scored an efficient 16 points on 5-for-8 from the field Wednesday night, including a critical 3-pointer that boosted San Antonio’s lead to 85-79 with 3:40 left in the game. He’s averaging 14.5 points and hitting 64.3 percent from the field. If the Spurs can get that much scoring pop from him as a fourth option, they should be in pretty good shape as the playoffs continue.

3. After struggling through a miserable seven quarters to start the first two games of the playoffs, Antonio McDyess came up huge for the Spurs with his defense against Randolph in the fourth quarter. Randolph had dominated the Spurs inside before McDyess turned it around by limiting him to only two points in the fourth quarter. It was the kind of defensive effort that could have turned the series around. 

4. The Spurs did a much better job of contesting the Memphis shooters at the 3-point line, keeping their perimeter game in check. The Grizzlies hit 60 percent in the game on Sunday beyong the arc. That extra scoring was almost like finding money for a team that ranked at the bottom of the NBA in 3-pointers during the regular season. The Spurs took a more determined defensive approach Wednesday night and the result was that the Grizzlies went back to their typical struggles from beyond the arc.    

They were limited to 21.4 percent from beyond the arc as they appeared rushing trying to hit the long jumpers.

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