Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and the Spurs face the Memphis Grizzlies for trip to NBA Finals and chance at franchise 5th NBA title….
The San Antonio Spurs are not quite the same team, that they were back in 2007, their last championship season, when it comes to their physical attributes. They’re a lot older, slower in some areas, and less athletic in other areas. However, the one thing this edition of the Spurs has more than any team left standing in the NBA playoffs, is savvy. What other way can you explain the manner, in which the Spurs defeated the Golden St. Warriors in 6 games, after being outplayed by the Warriors in the first 2 games at home? The Warriors, to me, looked like the more talented team. Of course, the Warriors never having been in such a setting, as the NBA playoffs definitely aided the Spurs. However, the adjustments that Gregg Popovich, and the Spurs made to shut down Steph Curry and the rest of the Warriors from game 3 to 6 should not be taken lightly.The Warriors are pretty much a one-trick pony. They love to shoot the ball from downtown, and do it well, but there’s not much more to the Warriors offensive attack. The older slower Spurs guarded the 3 point line masterfully, and the Warriors had no counter attack.
That’s pretty much what I see in this series. The Memphis Grizzlies are not the 3 point shooting machine, that the Warriors are. The Grizzlies attack you in the paint. Whether, its Zach Randolph (Z-Bo) with his old school post moves, Marc Gasol, or Mike Conley with his penetration. Now, I’ll take a team that attacks in the paint any day over a team that does their damage from the perimeter, but there has to be a balance. I’m not sure the Grizzlies have that balance. I look for the Spurs to load up on Randolph and Gasol in the paint, and take their chances with guys like Jeryd Bayless, Tayshaun Prince, Tony Allen, and Mike Conley beating them from the perimeter. All these guys are capable of shooting well, but it’s not their strong suit. If, the Spurs can handle the paint area, it will be imperative that these guys shoot well to keep the Spurs D honest.
I do believe the Spurs will win this series in 7 games, but I think the Grizzlies are the better team. It would not surprise me at all to see the Grizzlies win. The Spurs are going to have a tough time scoring themselves. The Grizzlies pride themselves on good tough, in your face, defense. Just ask Kevin Durant. Never has any team been so successful against Durant. The injury to Russell Westbrook put Durant in a situation he wasn’t used to being in, but it can’t be understated how effective the defense was against him. Tayshaun Prince, and Tony Allen are excellent defenders on the perimeter. Prince, is long and lean, and Tony Allen is a bulldog, that can overwhelm you with his in your face style. They will no doubt cause havoc for the Spurs offense, but Gregg Popovich always seems to find a way. Memphis, had it easy against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs are a different animal. Ball movement will be much better. Tony Parker will not turn the ball over like Reggie Jackson and the Thunder did, and then there’s that savvy.
Manu Ginobili has it. Tony Parker has it. Tim Duncan has it, and Gregg Popovich definitely has it. It’s unexplainable. As stated before, this group of Spurs are slower, less athletic, and are lot older. The difference is they know how to win. The savvy the Spurs possess, has been possessed by great teams before. The Yankees of the mid 90′ – 2000’s are probably the best example in baseball, arguably the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers recently in the NFL, the Lakers and Celtics in the NBA. As much as, I like the make-up of the Grizzlies and I like the coaching ability of Lionel Hollins, but I think the Spurs savvy will find a way. Should be a magnificent series! Enjoy!
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/seandavis/8653201625/”>Sean Davis</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>