Sunday, April 17, 2011

Western Conference Playoffs Round 1 - San Antonio vs. Memphis Grizzlies

I never thought the Spurs would have had the best record in the West, but they found a way to hold to their lead over the Lakers and be the #1 seed.  The Grizzlies have been quiet all year but they toughed it out to make the playoffs this year and they are a little scary. 


The old guard is back.  The Spurs draft well and make good decisions and that's why they are always here.  They still have Tim Duncan, although somewhat limited, they have Ginobili and Parker, that's the core.  Add to that the way the bench has played, (Neal, Blair, Bonner, etc.) and this Spurs team looks like just about as good as any they've had going in to the playoffs.  With Ginobili ailing from his elbow injury, this will give more time to the bench until he's ready to return.  After Tiago splitter, the Spurs lack big men, so that can be an issue for them. 


The young guns.  Mike Conley is playing like he signed a big contract, Randolph and Gasol are big and talented enough to score in the post and command double teams.  I like the guys that they can throw out there on defense to shut down an opposing teams' wings (Tony Allen and Shane Battier).  If the Grizzlies are smart they will run on this Spurs team and try to make this a sprint.  They have to impose their will and dominate the game in the post. 


Spurs - Gary Neal and George Hill.  Both of these guys are intricate members of the Spurs, but they are going to have to step up in this series because the Grizzlies are more athletic than the Spurs.  Being the younger member of the Spurs, they are going to have to stay in fron of the Mike Conleys and OJ Mayos of the world.  They will also have to pick up the slack in scoring for any games Ginobili misses. 

Grizzlies - OJ Mayo and Sam Young.  OJ Mayo has got to find a way to get the ball in the basket, but he can't be a volume shooter.  He's going to have to play off of the Grizzlies big men to have a complete game.  Sam Young has quietly had a decent game.  He's going to have to good games against these smaller Spurs' guards.  If they can get them into foul trouble along with the absence of Ginobili, this could get interesting quickly. 

Prediction: The Grizzlies are a good enough matchup against the Spurs to cause them problems.  If Randolph is able to play the best series of his life, they can upset this Spurs team.  Will he and will the Grizzlies be ready to step up against the veteran squad?  Spurs 4-3.

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