MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs haven’t lost a playoff game in the Bluff City since 2011, and the Memphis Grizzlies haven’t beaten them anytime or anywhere since winning that first-round series.
Spurs guard Tony Parker doesn’t believe any of that matters.
“We have a lot of respect for Memphis,” Parker said Wednesday. “They made it hard on us during the regular season, and I expect them to play very well at home. And we know a series can change very fast. We’ve been up two in the past and a team came back, so I just want to make sure we stay focused.”
So do the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Like the Spurs, the Cavaliers can take a big step a toward potential first-round sweep Thursday night when they play at Indiana. While San Antonio is looking to sweep Memphis for a third straight playoff series, the Cavaliers are 12-0 in series when they go up 2-0.
Having LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love locked in sure helps.
“Having those guys is a great luxury because every night two of the three should play well,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “And if two of the three guys play well and we get someone to pitch in off the bench we’re pretty unstoppable.”
Some things to know about Thursday’s matchups:
Cavaliers at Pacers, Cleveland leads 2-0. Game 3, 7 p.m., TNT.
NEED TO KNOW: James has won 19 straight opening-round games. The Pacers may be making a lineup change looking for a defensive boost and a way to stay in front of James, Irving and Love. Indiana may bring Al Jefferson, who did not play in either of the first two games, off the bench to give the Pacers more size to help with that.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Cleveland’s Kyle Korver has scored just four points and attempted five shots in the first two games. The Pacers have done a good job keeping close tabs on the marksman so far, and they better be careful in Game 3 as Korver made eight 3-pointers and scored 29 on his last visit to Indianapolis on Feb. 8, when the Cavs scored 132 points.
INJURY UPDATE: Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith is questionable for Game 3 after sitting out the second half of Game 2 with a left hamstring injury. An MRI exam showed only a bruise. Smith said his leg felt better Wednesday, and he likely will be a game-time decision. “I don’t like sitting out,” Smith said. “Sat out enough.”
THE PRESSURE IN ON: George. After criticizing his teammates following the first two games, Indiana’s star might have to carry the Pacers himself if they have any hope of getting back into the series.
Raptors at Bucks, Milwaukee leads 1-1. Game 3, 8 p.m., NBA TV.
NEED TO KNOW: The Bucks prefer to run. But after the Raptors stayed step-for-for step with Milwaukee in transition with a smaller but quicker lineup in Game 2, coach Jason Kidd has said he hopes to get better play out of the half-court game too.
KEEP AN EYE ON: The Bucks centers. Rookie Thon Maker is getting more playing time as an energetic presence on defense, though veteran Greg Monroe is the better offensive option with his maneuverability in the paint and an ability to hit jumpers around the lane.
INJURY UPDATE: Serge Ibaka started and gave the Raptors 36 minutes. He also scored 16 points despite a sore left ankle he hurt in Game 1. Ibaka said he’s feeling better and his ankle improved as he played through Tuesday night’s 106-100 win over the Bucks. “In the first half, it was a little sore. I felt a lot better in the second half,” Ibaka said. Now the Raptors have to hope all those minutes didn’t aggravate his ankle with a quick turnaround for Game 3.
PRESSURE IS ON: The young Bucks and how they perform in their first home game after taking the home-court edge away from Toronto by winning Game 1. They’ve had several games this season where they built big leads at home only to see let them slip away. The postseason-tested Raptors are built to take advantage of those mistakes.
Spurs at Grizzlies, San Antonio leads 2-0. Game 3, 9:30 p.m., TNT.
NEED TO KNOW: How officials call this game will be closely watched after Memphis coach David Fizdale ranted about the officiating in Game 2, a href=’https://www.apnews.com/5b2e1934cf9d411aa06e9903f898063f/NBA-fines-Grizzlies’-Fizdale-$30,000-for-officiating-rant’costing himself a $30,000 fine/a. Kawhi