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Spurs would like to remind you they are very good, crush Grizzlies in Game 1

May 19, 2013, 6:35 PM EDT

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs - Game One Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs are never the “it” team. Never the sexy squad with high-flying stars casual fans gravitate toward in the postseason. The collective national will was behind Stephen Curry and Golden State last round. Then a whole lot of prognosticators — very smart, good ones — picked Memphis this round. The Grizzlies were the new hot team among the basketball cognoscenti.

The Spurs don’t care.

San Antonio remains what they always were — very good, very efficient, very smart and a beautiful thing to watch if you truly love the sport of basketball.

Sunday afternoon San Antonio raced out to a 28-3 lead at home, pushed back on Memphis’ big third quarter run, shut down Zach Randolph (2 points and a -28) and cruised to a 105-83 win. San Antonio now leads the series 1-0.

Memphis will not be rattled; they will be a much better team Tuesday night in Game 2. They have been adjustment kings this postseason — they have lost Game 1 of every series and eventually won four straight to end it.

But their adjustments are going to be a lot more difficult this time around. Plus, that Gregg Popovich guy who coaches the Spurs is pretty good at adjustments, too.

Tony Parker carved up Mike Conley, getting into the teeth of the Grizzlies defense all game on his way to 20 points on 14 shots, plus 9 assists. Kawhi Leonard had 10 points and was 4-of-5 from three. As a team, the Spurs were 14-of-29 from three and that was key to this win.

After playing the Clippers and Thunder, this was a radically different offense the Grizzlies faced — both those first two teams key off just one guy (Chris Paul and Kevin Durant). The Spurs are not like that, they are diverse and will beat you with what you give them. The Spurs often attacked at the top of the key then got into the paint, the middle of the floor, with three point shooters in the corners. The Grizzlies defenders that were supposed to rotate had an impossible choice — leave the hot shooter from three or stop the layup. They couldn’t do enough of either.

(The Spurs, on the other hand, played the two big men combo of the Lakers in the first round, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, which helped prep them some for this series.)

Memphis did a solid job all night defensively of taking away the Spurs first options on offense, the preferred shot out of their sets, but San Antonio is better and more efficient at their second and their options than any team (Miami might want to argue that). Danny Green had 16 points, Matt Bonner hit 4-of-6 threes, and when the Spurs are doing that you’re in trouble.

“We’ve played our bench all year long and they’ve probably gained a little bit of confidence through that,” Popovich said in his post-game press conference (broadcast on NBA TV).

Memphis got better as the game wore on, but the Spurs found a rhythm and once the shots started falling even when Memphis started to contest it didn’t matter the Spurs hit everything.

Meanwhile, Memphis could not get in a rhythm at all.

San Antonio fronted Zach Randolph in the post and Memphis reacted like they had never seen this before. Mike Conley was never comfortable and shot 5-of-12. As a team Memphis never looked comfortable.

Except for Quincy Pondexter — he came in hot off the bench in the second half with 11 third quarter points on 4-of-5 shooting that quarter (he had 17 points on the night to lead Memphis.

He helped spark a 10-0 Grizzlies third quarter run that had the San Antonio lead down to six. But then the Spurs answered with a Manu Ginobili three, a Bonner three, then a Ginobili driving layup. By the end of the third quarter the lead was 16 and most of the fourth quarter was garbage time.

Lionel Hollins and the Memphis coaching staff have a lot of work ahead of them. They have to cut off the San Antonio penetration in the paint (that collapsed the defense and left Spurs shooters alone at the arc), they have to get Zach Randolph the ball in spite of the front, they have to get some floor balance.

They have done it before in the playoffs. It’s just going to be harder this time because the Spurs are very good. In case you forgot.

  1. logisticalvoices - May 19, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    Pop: maybe the most underrated coach in NBA history

    • mazblast - May 19, 2013 at 11:31 PM

      He’s not on a coast, he doesn’t have the Zen BS or the cigar, he doesn’t suck up to the media hacks, he’s not big on snappy quotes or sound bites, and he believes in team ball in a league whose commissioner is concerned with marketing individuals.

      Pop’s a coach, not a celebrity.

  2. steelers4385 - May 19, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Heres the problem. Mabye the spurs beat the grizzleys and go on to face the heat. But i think the grizzleys have the better built team to stop the heat. And it sucks because i hate the heat.

  3. scmems07 - May 19, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    I don’t think pop is underrated, most analyst and basketball people consider him one of the greatest coaches of all time, and the spurs are the best team to beat the heat, solid big’s, kawai can’t hold LeBron, but he can give him some problems and effective, fast pg’s that the heat can’t handle. Plus nobody can put a game plan better than pop and nobody follows the game plan better than the spurs

  4. rickyspanish - May 19, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    logisticalvoices

    I think Popovich is rated accurately. Everyone thinks he’s great.

    • casualcommenter - May 19, 2013 at 7:58 PM

      Agreed.

      I don’t think anybody routinely described as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history is underrated….

      • logisticalvoices - May 19, 2013 at 8:10 PM

        I hope you are right. I hear a lot about Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and Larry Brown being the best of this generation, but not so much about Pop.

  5. melkipershero - May 19, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    As a Grizzlies fan it was the refs fault!! I kid I kid.

    These 7 game series are all about adjustments. Hopefully we can adjust. The Spurs are amazing. Written off every year only to keep chugging along. Round 1 goes to the Spurs.

  6. rmo42 - May 19, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Anyone else think that foul call before the half where Manu got three shoots was crazy? Dude was NOT even close to being in the act of shooting!

    This is coming from a guy that doesn’t care which teams wins…that call was mind boggling.

    • casualcommenter - May 19, 2013 at 8:36 PM

      I disagreed with that call too. However, when one team loses by 22 points despite getting 6 more free throws than the other team (MEM had 20, San Antonio had 14), it doesn’t seem worthwhile to bring up a couple of bad calls.

      Better team won today – and I say that as a guy with no affiliation to either team.

      • rmo42 - May 19, 2013 at 10:29 PM

        Yeah, I was just bringing it up because nobody mentioned it. The Spurs were clearly the better team today and shot the Griz out of the building. It just annoys me for them to get a call THAT wrong, go back and review it and STILL not catch their mistake.

    • kinggw - May 19, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      Its mind boggling when you have the benefit of a slo mo replay that shows different angles, several times over. When it first happened, I thought it was a legit shooting foul. It wasnt a shooting foul, but he was fouled.

      • rmo42 - May 19, 2013 at 10:27 PM

        I agree completely that he was fouled, but for the 20 times that they showed the replay there was no way that they could convince me that he was in the act of shooting.

        Not to mention the refs went over to the table and actually reviewed it, lol.

  7. coasttocoast12 - May 19, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    I’m starting to think that Pop wanted T-Mac so he could say “I even gave him a ring, what more do you need?” or something..

  8. txnative61 - May 19, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    Pops own evaluation is instructive”—-“Are you a great innovator?” “Yeah, I drafted Tim Duncan, end of story.”

  9. chrisco716 - May 19, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Zach Randolph -28. Danny Green +28. hmmmm.

  10. mrlitl - May 19, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    “Kawhi Leonard had 10 pts and was 4 of 5 from three.” Huh? Isn’t that 12 points?

    • bucrightoff - May 20, 2013 at 12:47 AM

      They also apparently jumped out to a 28-3 lead…

      • kavika6 - May 20, 2013 at 3:25 AM

        Yeah, did we see the same game? Most of the article was good though.

  11. funktron2x - May 20, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    Parker is the most underrated player ever. And people already hold him in high esteem.

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