Slowing Parker is Grizzlies’ No. 1 Priority

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Forget about figuring how to free Zach Randolph for a few good looks without Matt Bonner and everybody else in black-and-silver spackled all over him like some Memphis dry rib rub. Or even how to jump-start the sluggish Tayshaun Prince.

Because if the Memphis Grizzlies, with their trio of All-Defensive Team performers, can’t slow down shifty San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker in tonight’s Game 3 as the Western Conference finals finally resume at the “Grindhouse” (9 p.m. ET, ESPN), this series is history.

“It’s not easy is it?” Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol said following the team’s shootaround. “They do a good job of creating space, creating gaps. It helps them having Matt Bonner spread out or Danny Green in the corner helps, or Manu [Ginobili], that helps creating those gaps and those lanes. But we have to do a better job of staying on the ball, pressuring him, attacking him on the other end.”

That responsibility lies with Mike Conley and Tony Allen.

As Gasol said, it ain’t easy. Parker’s killed Memphis all season. In four regular season games he averaged 25.5 ppg and 6.5 apg. He shot 50.7 percent from the floor and got to the free throw line 30 times, more than against any team except Houston (31). In the first two games of the West finals, Parker’s gone for 20 and nine, and was still lethal in Game 2 on a 6-for-20 night with 15 points and 18 assists.

Parker’s first step is the key. Once he’s by his man, he’s in the lane and at that point is options — drive it all the way, toss up a floater, kick it out for a 3 — seem endless.

“He’s top five for sure,” Conley said, ranking Parker’s quickness against other top point guards. “But the thing is it doesn’t look quick, but it’s deceptive. He’s very quick with his first step and he’s good and crafty with the ball once he gets around you, which makes it even worse. I love to guard the best. I love to guard Tony. We’ve got a lot of defensive-minded guys on our team and I’m one of them, so I love the challenge.

“But I’ll also do whatever it takes for our team as well. If Tony Allen’s the better matchup or maybe he does a little bit better on him than I do I’m fine with it and I’ll let him do that.”

As for Allen, who helped turn the second-round series with his late-game defense on Kevin Durant, sticking Parker more in Game 3?

“How much more do you want Tony Parker to be guarded by Allen?” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins retorted. “He’s been guarding him most of the series. If I put him more it would be the whole game. Is that what you want?”

Parker said the calf bruise that bothered him in the last round is now fine and that the three-day break between games was a wonderful thing for him, allowing him to get plenty treatment, plenty of rest and plenty of time to think about how the Grizzlies will attack him.

“I’m going to try to adapt to whatever defense they’re going to do, if they’re going to trap me or whatever, I’m going to have to trust my teammates. I’ve been doing that all season long so whatever they are going to propose, I am going to take whatever the defense gives.”

Conley said the plan is for him and whoever else takes a turn on Parker to apply pressure earlier and make Parker work harder to get the Spurs into their sets. Then it becomes a defense-on-a-string concept to defend their precision pick-and-rolls and keep Parker from slithering into the lane at will.

“We had the same issue with Chris Paul,” Hollins said. “They’re great point guards and great point guards figure out a way to get in the paint. You just got to limit those amount of times that they get there and make sure that guys are flowing back to their own men so they’re not giving up wide-open 3s.”

5 Comments

  1. raudel hermosilo says:

    This year the two diferences in the series between the spurs and the grizzlies are that the spurs are healtier than two years ago when Memphis beat the spurs in six games and the main diference is that Manu is healthy and the trio [Tim, Tony and Manu] are playing toghether and they are very experienced and giving confidence to the younger players, now Splitter is playing like he has not played before, the spurs will finish this series tonight or on game five and if they continue to be healhty they will give a run for their money to the Heat or to the pacers thats for sure, I am looking at Tim Duncan and he has the same determination and the desire that he had when they won those championships and that is bad newa for te East teams…GO SPURS GO !!!!!!

  2. Community Award says:

    The main idea of winning a bball game is to stay calm, communicate, and understand each other. Being vocal on the court doesn’t mean yelling, complaining about not getting touches, but reading the defense and offense and take and protect the basketball….Yeah, i’m talking to you Dwight Howard.

  3. realist2013 says:

    Cant compare spurs and clippers. Clips are a lob and jump shooting team of young guys still developing. The spurs are disciplined and have every offensive weapon there is. So Tony will still kick out float stop and pop or whatever. They have post up players who can do the inside outside and make you pick your poison. With memphis’s current make up I cant see them beating the Spurs. Bayless and pondexter can give them some perimeter help especially with tayshaun being utterly useless.

  4. mattchew says:

    parker has been doing this for years!!! you can’t expect bayless to jump on something parker does… and copy him… parker knows were everyone is!! that is harder than guessing

  5. Max says:

    Bayless can stay in front of Parker. Spread out offense. Too easy when clogged, Duncan can guard both Z-BO and Gasol. Move Gasol to freethrow line. Keep an up close hand at all times in the face of RED and Manu. USE Pondexter for 3 ptners. No turn overs, focus and make all FREE THROWS they win games! Bayless never go for a 3 with 18 minutes left to shoot. dumb. Drive to the Basket then kick out if time is running slow to Pondexter,