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Spurs vs Grizzlies Preview 

Game 1 Sunday 3:30pm ABC

The first conference final game starts up tomorrow afternoon and we should be in for a hell of a series. I am still kicking myself for not riding the Grizzlies this year after being firmly on the bandwagon for two or three years prior. But who would have known Russ would get knocked out of the playoffs. No matter how you look at it things broke the way both of these teams probably wanted but now only one can move on for the right to play for the title.

The case for San Antonio:

They are the Spurs. They have Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili. They know what it takes to win a title. This year the Spurs have once again found some great key role players. Kawhi Leonard is just 21 years old but with the leadership on this team he has looked like he has already completely proven himself to be a legit threat. He is a freakish athlete capable of guarding four positions while creating constant mismatches on the offensive end. When Steph Curry was annihilating the Spurs in Game 1 the Spurs answered by putting Kawhi on him late. Curry had 32 points after three quarters of Game 1. After that he scored just 12 points in the 4th quarter and the two overtimes. Kawhi’s defense sparked a massive comeback. The Spurs trailed by 18 with 37.5 seconds left in the 3rd before coming back to win.

As good as Kawhi was during the regular season he has stepped it up even more in the playoffs. He has averaged nearly 14 points and over 8 rebounds in nearly 38 minutes per contest in the postseason. Now without Rudy Gay the Spurs have the freedom to do whatever they want with Kawhi on defense. Whoever gets hot for the Grizzlies will have Kawhi draped all over them.

Perhaps the number one reason to love the Spurs is the coaching matchup. There probably isn’t another coach in the league on Pop’s level meanwhile Lionel Hollins is constantly making mistakes. With the obvious move of taking Kevin Martin out of the series completely, forcing Durant to literally win the series by himself, by having Tony Allen follow him around all game every game, Hollins strolled out Quincy Pondexter for 25 minutes in Game 1, while Allen played just 21 including giving Pondexter the crunch time minutes. At no point will Pop hurt his team. He only makes them better.

Despite playing the worst playoff team of 2013 and the young unproven Warriors the Spurs are battle tested. The same cannot be said about Memphis who drew Vinny Del Negro and the imploding Clippers and then the Thunder minus Russ. Yes, they can only beat who is on their schedule but there is not a ton to be confident about if you are considering a Grizzlies bet. Not to mention the fact that the best possible remaining storyline for this season is for the Spurs to beat the Heat and Duncan winning one last title for the road. That would give him five and put him in even greater company. If this wasn’t the NBA I wouldn’t even bring up storylines as a legit factor in the series. But we all know how bad the refs are and that the NBA loves a good storyline.

The Case for Memphis:

They can beat the Spurs up inside. Believe it or not the Spurs are best suited playing from the perimeter in their half court sets in this series and not by going down into Duncan as much. The Grizzlies had the best statistical defense in the league this year only allowing 89.3 ppg. They did that by owning the paint. The Spurs aren’t particularly deep down low so if Memphis keeps pounding the ball in to Zbo and Gasol they might be able to wear the Spurs down and get them in foul trouble.

The real key in this series will be who controls the pace. The Spurs like to get out run and score a lot. Memphis wants to get back play defense and slow things down. If Mike Conley is as ready to make the next leap, like he has looked ready to do quite often this year, then the Grizz have a good shot at winning the West for the first time in franchise history. If they control the pace and the paint it will force the Spurs to take and make a lot of jump shots, most likely with Tony Allen’s hand in their face.

Best Bet:

Spurs to win the series -140

I started out writing this thing with Memphis in mind as my pick but I talked myself into the Spurs. They are better on paper and even better in action. If I couldn’t talk you out of making that Memphis bet yet just think about that moment before Game 1 when they show the split screen of Pop and Hollins and tell me it won’t make you want to throw up.

Bonus Bets:

Spurs win the series in 5 games +450

Spurs win the series in 6 games +550

Spurs win the series in 7 games +325

Memphis has far too good of a home crowd so there is no way the Spurs are going to sweep so lets just throw that out the window. Bet all three of these the same and the worst case scenario is you make a 25% return on your investment.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

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