The Memphis Grizzlies trail the San Antonio Spurs 2-0 in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals. But with home advantage for the first time on Saturday night, all might not be lost.
The Grizzlies know they need to find major improvements if they want to once again overturn a series deficit. Even in coming from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime, Memphis – who are now 5.15 to advance - were left to reflect on an abysmal first half and then chances which went begging.
They profited from uncharacteristic lapses from San Antonio. The Spurs are too smart a team to repeat those mistakes, leaving their rivals searching for bigger and better performances tonight to stay in the hunt for a place in the Finals. But we still remember what happened 12 months ago, when the Texans went 2-0 ahead only to collapse vs the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For that to happen here, there are two key things Memphis must accomplish, starting tonight. San Antonio have been the best team in the first quarter during these play-offs, outscoring opponents by an average of 6.2 points, but in Game 2 they built a 31-14 lead. The Grizzlies need to come out fighting.
The other piece of the puzzle is Mike Conley’s contribution. He’s averaging 16 points and six assists in this series so far but he’s been outplayed by Tony Parker. The Frenchman has shot 53.2% with his Grizzlies counterpart on the floor but 33.3% with Conley on the bench. Lionel Hollins is forced to keep Tony Allen in the fray for extended periods to help nullify Parker’s threat.
It hasn't really helped. Allen is a great defender but Memphis need more offense. And the Spurs point guard had 18 assists last time out, as well as 15 points, while his foe dished four assists to go with his 18 points. So have a look at both playmakers to provide extra service, with Conley at 1.85 to rack up more than 7 assists and Parker at 1.85 to record over 7.5.
As for the game, expect another battle in the middle with Tim Duncan worth a look at 1.85 to stay under 17.5 points and Marc Gasol good value at 1.85 to score over 16.5. For the win, Memphis are 1.42 and San Antonio at 2.92. But take a punt on going under the scoring line of 172.5, available at 2.85.
Best bet: Take Mike Conley to grab more than seven assists in San Antonio-Memphis at 1.85