Saturday, April 23, 2011

From Flophouse to Grindhouse: Game 3 Today

Posted By on Sat, Apr 23, 2011 at 11:49 AM

The "growl towels" are neatly laid out across each seat at an already sold-out FedExForum. Creative homemade signs have been made. Tony Allen no doubt has his 'gas up.'

Tonight, at 6:30 p.m., it's on: Game 3, Grizzlies-Spurs.

The official Game 3 growl towel.
  • The official Game 3 "growl towel."

There will be adjustments and counter-adjustments, but the biggest change from Game 2 to 3 will be venue.

The atmosphere tonight will be compared to that of the first Grizzlies playoff game, back in the Pyramid, when towels were also waved and Hubie Brown received his Coach of the Year award.

But that was about celebrating the moment and celebrating Hubie. Tonight will be about supporting the home team and trying to rattle the road team. Tonight, minds will be on winning — and not just this game. The atmosphere will have a harder edge.

Home court advantage tends to mean something in the NBA. Just look at the regular-season records of these two teams.

At home, the Spurs were 36-5. On the road, they were 26-15.

On the road, the Grizzlies were 16-25. Back in their building, they were 30-11.

What could home cooking mean for the Grizzlies?

Player Splits: Obviously, the entire team has played better at home, but the home/road splits are particularly pronounced for a few players:

Sam Young — 43% shooting on the road to 51% at home.

Marc Gasol — 50% shooting on the road to 56% at home.

Darrell Arthur — 45% shooting on the road to 54% at home, with his blocks rising from 0.5 a game to 1.1.

And the most pronounced home/road splits of all belong to …

Mike Conley: Across-the-board shooting percentages (field/three/free-throw) on the road: 42/32/68. At home: 47/42/77. His steals also kick up from 1.5 to 2.1


Getting Hyped? (But Not Too Hyped): Tony Allen was effective in spots in the two games down in San Antonio, but he wasn't the folk-hero Tony Allen we saw in the regular-season's second half. It will be interesting to see how he feeds off the home crowd energy — and vice versa. Allen has been waving his towel at the home crowd all season. Tonight, they'll be waving right back.

But there's also a danger in getting too worked up tonight, especially in the first quarter, especially against a cool, veteran Spurs team that's seen it all before.

Zach Randolph spoke to this at practice yesterday: "You have to calm down," Randolph said. "You'll see how the crowd's hyped and there's a packed house and you'll start rushing. It'll be important for us to calm down and get our poise. We're gonna by hyped. We got a right to be hyped. But at the same time we have to be smart. Take care of the ball. Don't do stupid stuff on the court."

Free-Throw Disparities: In the two games in San Antonio, the Spurs went to the line 79 times. The Grizzlies got to the line 53 times. That's a pretty big disparity, but one more related to style and execution — the Spurs thrive on guard penetration; the Grizzlies play an aggressive, grabbing brand of defense — than officiating. Still, I think everyone believes that crowd atmosphere can impact officiating sometimes. It would help the Grizzlies immensely if this were one of those times.

The game starts at 6:30 tonight, but the festivities begin earlier then that. I'll be heading downtown this afternoon and will try to check in throughout the day and night, both here and via my FlyerGrizBlog Twitter feed.

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