When Gregg Popovich was asked by Doris Burke during the mandatory interview between quarters Sunday why the San Antonio Spurs were so successful defending Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph, he replied simply with, "hard work." Can it be that simple? Is it possible to out-work Randolph and turn him into an ordinary player? In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, that was the reality. The Spurs seemed to have a game plan of how they wanted to make Randolph work for his scoring and they executed it to perfection. That plan involved keeping Randolph out of position in the post, orbiting him on the block depending on where the possible post-entry pass might coming from, and using their length with guys like Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw to keep him from feeling comfortable with the ball. "They were disrupting my rhythm," Randolph told the media after the game. "It was just one of those nights. I played like I did against the Clippers in LA." In the first game against the Clippers in the opening round, Randolph managed 13 points on 6 of 10 shooting, but never made an overall impact on the game. In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs held him to two points on 1 of 8 from the field. There were three big reasons why the Spurs were so successful against Randolph. The first reason was the way they swarmed him on defense. When Randolph got the ball in the mid-post, he looked like he wanted to impose his will on the Spurs' interior defenders. This is typically a pretty good plan by Z-Bo because he uses his crafty moves and strength to create the space for his feathery touch on whichever shot he ends up taking. However, the Spurs never let him really get a lot of the space he needs to accomplish this.
Spurs stymie Zach Randolph with lots of hard work
CBS Sports | May 19