The Western Conference NBA finals got underway Sunday, May 19, between the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs.
Prior to Game 1 on Sunday, a lot of pundits believed the Grizzles will beat the Spurs to advance to the NBA finals. Some have even gone as far as to predict the Western Conference finals will be an ugly slug-fest between the two teams.
Don’t get me wrong, the Memphis Grizzlies are a solid team, and have always played the San Antonio Spurs tough. They have the defensive player of the year in Marc Gasol, and have been holding teams to the lowest points total per game during the regular seasons (89.3). Also, the Grizzlies were allowing opponents to shoot just 43.5 percent—but this is the playoffs, and it will not happen against the Big bad Spurs (want proof go back to the Spurs Sundays 105-83 thrashing of the Grizzlies).
The San Antonio Spurs are not easily intimidated. The Spurs are a veteran ball club and is used to playing on the big stage. For San Antonio, this year is about revenge. They still have a sour taste in their mouths from last year’s disappointment when they blew a 2-0 lead and eventually got knocked out of the Western finals in six games by the Oklahoma City Thunder. That loss still hurt, especially among their star players who are trying to win championship number 5 for the future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan before he retires. Tony Parker had this to say “We were disappointed last year being up 2-0, having home court, not being able to go to the Finals." This is the motivation that is fueling this great franchise this year.
This Spurs are on a mission and the Memphis Grizzlies are standing in their way. They also haven’t forgotten what happened two years ago when the Grizzlies, an eight-seed shocked the world by eliminating the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs. If you think this team doesn’t hold grudges, think again, the Spurs are going for the “jugular veins” of the Grizzlies. That is why Game 1 was such a statement game, and why I believe they will close out the series in just five games.
This Year’s Grizzlies Team is no match for the Spurs
The Spurs are a veteran group that is use to playing on the Western Conference finals stage. For Memphis, the West finals are new territories. Since the Grizzlies came to the league in 1995 (formerly the Vancouver Grizzlies), only once have they gotten out of the first round of the playoffs.
The Western Conference finals matchup is the perfect storm for the San Antonio because Memphis plays a slower-tempo which the Spurs are masters at doing. This style of basketball will enable San Antonio to dictate the tempo of the series. Memphis would have had a better chance matching up, and maybe beating the Spurs if they hadn’t gotten rid of Rudy Gay (the one guy who could have caused significant matchup problems for the Spurs). Rudy Gay is bigger and more-athletic than TayShawn Prince whom they traded for. He is also a more versatile wing-man who could provide some much needed relief at the power forward position where they will need it in this series.
As was the case in Game 1, Zack Randolph is going to struggle throughout the series. Mike Connolly Junior has his work cut out for him, because he is going to have to chase Tony Parker around and would not get his offense going; Marc Gasol will be the only constant for the Grizzlies, but when all is said and done, it will not be enough to neutralize the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs are a team of destiny. For the first time in several years they are healthy, and now has a deep bench—this coupled with the short comings of the Memphis Grizzlies are reasons why the San Antonio Spurs will close out the series in five games.
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