The San Antonio Spurs won the franchise’s fifth Western Conference championship Monday night by sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2013 Western Conference Finals. As a result of this victory, they have earned the right to play in the NBA Finals for the League’s 2013 championship.
Although, the Grizzlies did compete in this series, with two games being decided in overtime, they were unable to breakdown the Spurs at either end of the court. The Spurs were consistently in control of this series and fended off every challenge from the Grizzlies. Here are four observations explaining how they did it.
Controlled the paint
Tim Duncan was able to assert himself on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he could get any shot he wanted and made timely baskets that were crucial to the Spurs winning games two and three. Additionally, his passing ability often broke down the Grizzlies interior defense and led to easy points for the Spurs. On defense, his shot blocking consistently disrupted the Grizzlies offense and his post play never allowed center Marc Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph to impact the series in a meaningful way.
While Duncan was the shining star he did not control the paint by himself. Center Tiago Splitter and power forward Boris Diaw gave the Spurs significant minutes. They provided scoring, and post defense that kept the Grizzlies big men from impacting the series when Duncan was off the floor. Their ability to keep Gasol and Randolph frustrated is a big reason this series ended in a sweep.
Dominated the perimeter
Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal owned the perimeter in this series. Collectively, they provided scoring, defense, and rebounding that overwhelmed the Grizzlies. Their steady and assertive play was not matched by the Grizzlies perimeter players and this kept the Spurs in command of each game. Leonard in particular played very well, shooting 59 percent from the floor and averaging seven rebounds a game.
Tony Parker could not be stopped
Parker was the best player in this series. He shot 53 percent from the floor and averaged 24.5 points and 9.5 assists per game. His play at point guard dictated the tempo and he did anything he wanted on offense. The Grizzlies could not keep him out of the paint. Even defensive stalwart Tony Allen had difficulty staying in front of him. Parker’s ability to breakdown the Grizzlies defense led to easy baskets for him and his teammates around the rim and caused the Grizzlies perimeter defenders to sag in the paint, which led to open shots on the perimeter for the Spurs.
Coming into the series the Spurs had questions surrounding their health. Ginobli, Splitter and Parker were all dealing with injuries and it was uncertain how effective they would be in this series. It turns out they were very effective: Splitter helped shut down Gasol and Randolph, Ginobili hit timely shots, and Parker was quite simply the Most Valuable Player of the series.
Tony Parker and Tim Duncan led the way, but the Spurs victory against the Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals was a team effort.