• Marc Cantave

NBA Playoffs: Spurs vs Grizzlies Preview


The San Antonio Spurs will face off against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Does that sentence sound familiar? Well that’s because these two teams met up in the first round of last year’s playoffs as well. The Grizzlies are looking for a different result this time as they got swept in last year’s matchup and lost three out of the four games by 20+ points.

Look for the series to be different this time around as Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, who were injured last year, should both be healthy and ready to go, which leads to the key matchups of this series.

Key Matchups

Spurs Bigs vs. Grizzlies Bigs

The frontcourt is definitely the main event of this series. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol go head to head with Pau Gasol and Lamarcus Aldridge. With this, you have a matchup filled with post play, shot blocking and mid-range jump shots. These players will have a huge impact on the scoreboard and whichever outplays the other could determine the outcome.

Mike Conley vs. Tony Parker

Now this matchup may not be as flashy as Stephen Curry vs. Damian Lillard or Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden, but it should be paid attention to nonetheless. It’s a point guard oriented league and these two have a lot to contribute. Tony Parker is still an important player for the Spurs (even though it’s Kawhi Leonard’s team now) and Memphis’ success is predicated on the play of Mike Conley.

Mike Conley, at this stage of his career, is the better player. Particularly, Conley is because he’s averaging a career high in points (20.6 ppg), while Tony Parker is averaging his lowest since his rookie year. These two will have an impact and will be a key matchup.

Tony Allen vs. Kawhi Leonard

This has nothing to do with Tony Allen’s awful offense, but has more to do with his defense on Kawhi. If the Grizzlies are going to have any chance of beating the Spurs, Allen is going to have to shut down or at least contain Kawhi Leonard. Plain and simple.

Key Stat

Grizzlies: When Mike Conley is on the floor, the Grizzlies have an efficient field goal percentage of 50.9 percent as opposed to 46.9 when he is off. The Grizzlies are much more efficient offensively when he is on the court and this time around the Grizzlies will actually have him.

Spurs: At 31-10 (pending) the Spurs have the second best road record in the NBA. The Spurs are known as one of the better road teams and they will definitely grab one of the Grizzlies home games, which will determine whether it’s a long series or not.

Prediction

If you are expecting a different result from the 2016 Spurs vs. Grizzlies, then you came to the wrong place, but it will be a lot more competitive. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are huge difference makers and they will prevent the Grizzlies from being swept. However, you can still expect the Spurs to win this series. I will say the series ends in six games. Both teams will split the home games and then the Spurs will win the next two. Nonetheless, the series belongs to the Spurs.

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