Instant Karma Is Gonna Get You
2011 Playoffs, 1st Round: Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs
Be careful what you wish for, Memphis Grizzlies.
Most people believe that the Grizzlies tanked the final 2 games of the regular season to slide into the 8-seed. This was most likely to avoid the Lakers, which is totally reasonable. (The Grizzlies might have additional reason to avoid the Lakers, to avoid all the reminders of the Pau Gasol fleecing.) But slipping into the 8-seed assured them a date with the 1-seed Spurs. Teams don’t normally try to get the 1-seed, especially 60-win 1-seeds that, for the most part, tore through the regular season.
This series reminds me of 2006, when we got the 1-seed and drew the scrappy Sacramento Kings in the first round, who were coming off of a mid-season trade and surging, so they weren’t the ‘typical’ 8-seed. We split the first four games (each team winning at home), before the Spurs closed out the series by winning on the road in Game 6.
This Grizzlies team is good, and tough, and presents several match-up problems for us. But ultimately, I think the Spurs talent adn experience will be too much for Memphis.
To me, the key of the series is the opposing frontcourts. Zach Randolph has had a fantastic season, and seems to especially torment the Spurs. Coupled with Marc Gasol, and the Grizzlies have 2 very big, very good players up front. It’ll be interesting to see how Pop works the rotation. McDyess and Duncan will obviously start. Bonner will most assuredly be in the rotation as his ability to spread the floor is crucial to our offense. But will there be a 4th big off the bench? And who will it be? Blair has been playing most of the season (and mostly well), but Splitter has been surging, and is exactly what we need against a big frontline, as he is big himself, physical, plays tough defense, and is willing to mix it up down low.
To me, though, it’s mostly about Tim Duncan. Since coming back from his ankle injury, he’s been sneaky good. He’s definitely rounding into playoff form. Be ready for more offense to run through him, and be ready for him to dominate.
The backcourt should present advantages for us. Tony Parker should be able to drink Mike Conley’s milkshake. Parker, may in fact, represent our greatest advantage, and we should put him in pick-and-roll early and often. Coming off the bench, both Hill and Neal should contribute and give the Spurs big games.
Ginobili is the wild card. By all accounts, his elbow injury isn’t too serious. I expect him to be back no later than Game 2. He’ll want to play Game 1; Pop will want to sit him. Prudence will probably win out. The Spurs can also win without him.
The second season is here. This is Spurs time. Sit back and enjoy.
Go Spurs Go.
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