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Coach’s Rant May Inspire Grizz in Game 3

Updated: .April 21, 2017

By Charles Jay

Well, the Memphis Grizzlies have not been able to get much of an offense going in the first two games of their Western Conference playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, as San Antonio, the top team in the NBA as far as Defensive Rating is concerned, has held them below 40% shooting in both games. Admittedly that are there are not a lot of great outside shooting possibilities in the Memphis rotation, but it’s what they are doing on the inside that has coach David Fizdale (pictured) very concerned. And he sought to address that after Game 2, in a big way.

Whether that will have any effect on the outcome of Game 3 is unknown, but the action will begin at 9:35 PM ET at the FedEx Forum, and America’s Bookie customers will have the opportunity to place wagers after the game has begun, using the Live Betting options that are available in the sportsbook interface.

In the second game, in which his team lost 96-82, the gives the Grizzlies got only 15 free throws, while Kawhi Leonard, the MVP candidate for the Spurs, had 19 all by himself. Altogether, San Antonio made 31 out of its 32 free-throw attempts, an amazing percentage .Fizdale, in the post-game press conference, went on and on about how his team, in particular Zach Randolph, an assertive presence inside, was not getting the calls from the officials.

He called the referees “unprofessional,” and said that even though he is a first-year head coach, he was not going to get “rooked” by the guys with stripes. What followed was a $30,000 fine, as was expected. But maybe, just maybe, there was some benefit to his tirade, and if there was, it should manifest itself in Thursday night’s game.

In the NBA playoff betting odds posted on this contest, San Antonio is laying points on the road:

San Antonio Spurs -3.5
Memphis Grizzlies +3.5

Over 188 points -110
Under 188 points -110

Fizdale sounded off like very few coaches have, and in a way, maybe he’s right. Leonard has gotten 28 attempts at the free-throw line over the first two games, and he has been perfect from the charity stripe. The Memphis coach pointed out that with 35 shot attempts in the paint in Game 2, his team only got 15 chances to shoot free throws, while San Antonio had more than twice as many opportunities with about half the number of field-goal attempts in the lane.

The residual effect of this rant is that Fizdale has not only gotten a lot of community support, he has undoubtedly picked up a lot of credibility from his team. He took great pains to point out that Mike Conley, his point guard, is a quiet and reserved type who doesn’t throw tantrums, but nonetheless does not get the proper respect from officials. “It was a very poorly officiated basketball game,” he said.

Fizz they’ll won’t be lighter in the while it, at least on a personal basis. ServiceMaster, a Memphis-based company, which owns, among other things, the pest-control business Terminix, agreed to pay his fine. But with the Grizzlies need is some better offensive strategy, and based on the two games these teams play the FedEx Forum this season, it remains to be seen whether they will get it. But they ought to be better on the defensive end.

And they may get a fair shake from the officials.

On February 6, the Grizzlies shot just 39.5% from the field but held the Spurs to under 37%, not to mention 74 points, in a 15-point victory. In that game, they had 25 free throws to just 17 for San Antonio. And they came back on March 18 to beat the Spurs 104-96 at FedEx, despite 42% shooting, as they got 31 free throws (making 27) to just 22 for Gregg Popovich’s team. In other words, the refs, in the words of Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, knew how to “keep it fair.”

And this kind of thing has to be a sensitive subject for the league, because the assumption is that the more established players get the calls. You have to wonder whether they will overcompensate. But this will be a charged-up crowd and a charged-up team, and maybe Fizdale has helped to engineer a more inspired performance. We’ll take the Grizzlies plus the points at home, with a small taste of the money line, as the Charles Jay / America’s Bookie Challenge continues on Thursday night.

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