Despite getting a boost from the return of Manu Ginobili, the Spurs went down to the Grizzlies in Game 4 and now trail in the Western Conference first-round series 3-1. Since the NBA expanded to 16 teams in the playoffs, the eighth-seeded team has only beaten a top-seeded team three times. The Grizzlies would like to make it four.
Zach Randolph buried a critical 3-pointer late in Game 3 to help the Grizzlies win 91-88. It’s the second time in this series a Memphis player hit a huge 3-point shot to bury the Spurs. The Spurs were clipped by the Grizzlies in Game 1, thanks to Shane Battier’s 3-pointer and the unclutchness of Richard Jefferson, who missed a wide-open 3-point shot from the top of the arc that would have sent the game into overtime.
So which higher seeded team is in big trouble? The Magic? Spurs? Or the Lakers?
Fourth-seeded Orlando trailing fifth-seeded Atlanta, 3-1, is not that shocking, although seeing Dwight Howard score 46 points and watching the Magic still lose is a bit of a surprise. But during the regular season, the Hawks defeated the Magic three out of four times so their victories in Game 1, 3 and 4 can’t be considered a stunner. The Magic-Hawks series should be a competitive one, and it could very well go seven games. The Magic can still recover because Howard gives them a chance every night. However, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson need to step up their game and start knocking down shots.
The Lakers’ loss to the Hornets on Sunday can be described in one word: aberration. The Lakers demolished the Hornets in the Game 3 and have regained home-court advantage.
You can’t put too much stock into the Hornets’ victories in Game 1 and Game 4 because the Lakers are still the better team and, for whatever reason, the defending champs looked a little sluggish in the last game and were caught off guard by the pesky Hornets and the rebirth of CP3. Look for the Lakers to rebound in Game 5 and travel to New Orleans with a 3-2 lead in the series.
However, the same can’t be said about the Spurs. The Grizzlies have stood toe-to-toe with the Spurs so far and have not played like a No. 8 team. Memphis’ frontline of Marc Gasol and Randolph have dominated the paint, and unless the Spurs frontcourt players have a growth spurt, the Grizzlies will have the upperhand inside as long as they keep feeding Gasol, who has outplayed Tim Duncan so far, and Randolph in the low block.
The Spurs can still win this series, but it could go six or seven games, which can’t be good for Old Timmy Duncan’s legs and Ginobili’s sprained elbow. And the longer this series goes, the more confident the Grizzlies will get and they’ll start to believe that they can actually pull off the upset.
Photo credit: US Presswire – Spurs forward/center Tim Duncan reacts after a foul call during Game 1 of the Spurs-Grizzlies playoff series in San Antonio.