The San Antonio Spurs easily defeated the Lakers, the big brother in the city of Los Angeles. The first round win by the Spurs was no big deal. Not a scent of a championship title could be detected by the Spurs at this juncture of the NBA title race. The Lakers were without Kobe Bryant and for all intent and purposes the Lakers was a depleted team whose cast of players were brought together to embellish and re-live dreams of championship glory for the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles. It was not to be.
San Antonio won the first round playoff series against the Lakers, but the series did not provide the test the Spurs needed to gage how they would perform against other competition or where they were as a team overall. The key factor was that the Spurs had made it to the second round despite the injuries and the recovery of key players. The Spurs were not playing to a level that had anyone predicting that the Spurs are contenders to win it all. Maybe not even the Spurs themselves believed they were the team to beat on the run for a NBA championship title.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the little brothers of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Clippers had just completed their best regular season run as they entered their first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers had beaten the Grizzlies in the first round last year and was hoping to do the same this year now that they had put together a team they thought could reach the Western Conference finals. One problem, no one remembered to tell the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Memphis Grizzlies had dreams of their own and they also were coming off one of their best regular seasons in franchise history. The first round playoff series between the Clippers and the Grizzlies pushed one team forward with great expectations and a potentially bright future going into the 2nd round and the other team was sent reeling down a path of question marks, reevaluation and decisions.
The Clippers won the first two games at home but that would be the end of their run in the playoffs. The Grizzlies on the back of their big men, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol along with great team defense, pounded the Clippers the next four games. The Memphis Grizzlies stayed submerged underwater until there was no life left in the Clippers, all the air had been let out of Lob City. The Grizzlies looked like a team that had all the components to contend in the West and be a match-up problem for a potential show down against the small ball, defending champions, the Miami Heat who everyone was predicting to take the East again.
The two teams who obliterated the hopes and dreams of Los Angeles’ brothers one and two NBA franchises would now face each other in round two of the Western Conference playoffs. The Memphis Grizzlies’ outstanding display against the Clippers along side the Spurs recovering, aging Big Three and their in sequential series win against the Lakers put Memphis at the top of the new team to beat list and favorite to win this series.
There is always proof that despite what all the prognosticators, experts and so-calls say, we must always play the games to confirm the truth of the matter that does not always line up with what appears to be the way things are on the surface.
Game one between the Spurs and the Grizzlies confirm the need to play the games. The San Antonio Spurs trounced the Memphis Grizzlies in game one 105-83. The recovering Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker and a renewed energized Tim Duncan put the Grizzlies and anyone else on notice that they are still in the hunt. The Spurs may have had sightings of drops of a championship title in the water, but after game one it could not be confirmed.
The Spurs won game two in overtime, at home, shutting down the Grizzlies’ goal to at least return home with a 1-1 split against the Spurs. They were not able to deliver because the Spurs Big Three refused to lose and San Antonio’s team defense got crucial stops when they needed it.
The Spurs now had the look of the better team so far but now the Memphis Grizzlies were welcoming some home cooking and everyone still felt that they would recover the power they had displayed before these two games against the Spurs. After all, the Spurs had won the first two games in a playoff series against Oklahoma City Thunder last year only to lose the next four games to OKC. That would not be the case this year for the San Antonio Spurs.
Game 3 Spurs vs. Grizzlies; Tony Parker, Ginobili and Duncan played like throwbacks of themselves a few years ago. Against Memphis the Big Three played like sharks that had seen food in the water and they attacked. The Spurs game three 104-93 overtime victory against Memphis heightened San Antonio’s sense of smell of a championship title in the water. Their attack will become lethal as the Spurs are positioned to close out the Grizzlies early and rest.
Coach Gregg Popovich had fought for and was fined during the regular season as he found ways to get strategic rest for his aging big three. An early closeout against Memphis would be just what the doctor ordered. The Spurs Big Three can smell an opportunity and a fifth NBA championship has them, and their coach, heading toward the scent. The Spurs are in the attack mode and ready for a run to garnish a NBA championship title meal.