May 19, 2013, 6:35 PM EST
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.
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.
Dec 20, 2013, 8:29 PM EST
This is the first ball I've seen with a Commissioner Adam Silver signature on it. http://t.co/eSlS3cMJ9P— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) December 19, 2013 The times, they are a changin’. Adam Silver will replace David Stern as NBA Commissioner on Feb. 1, and among the differences (there will not be that many, really) is that the NBA…
Dec 20, 2013, 7:28 PM EST
Dion Waiters — the Cavaliers second-leading scorer and a guy on the trade block according to reports — will be out Friday night against the Bucks and maybe longer due to a sore wrist. He has wrist tendonitis that had bothered him for a while but he had played through it — he had 25…
Dec 20, 2013, 6:29 PM EST
We had Rob Dauster of NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk on the PBT Podcast recently and when the topic of Jabari Parker came up Dauster mentioned Carmelo Anthony — a polished scorer with the ability to play the four, score inside, or stretch the floor out to the arc. Dauster isn’t the only one to say that, it’s…
Dec 20, 2013, 5:05 PM EST
Yesterday we passed along the report that before Philadelphia had starting shopping Thaddeus Young around he had gone to the team and asked for a trade. He didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding process. If you’ve watched how this game was played with others guys trying to get moved then you knew what…
Dec 20, 2013, 4:07 PM EST
The last time we saw French center Alexis Ajinca in an NBA game it was 2011 with the Raptors. He had been a bit player with Dallas and Charlotte before that. Now he’s back getting another shot with the New Orleans Pelicans, reports the Times Picayune. The New Orleans Pelicans have reached a two-year contract…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:55 PM EST
There is no bigger story at the start of this NBA season than the Portland Trail Blazers — they are 22-5, tied with the Thunder for the best record in the West, and the Blazers have by far the best offense in the NBA. Which makes them a whole lot of fun to watch. Portland’s…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:10 PM EST
You can own a shoe that has kicked Chris Paul in the face. And who doesn’t want that? Remember the play from Nov. 19 — Tony Allen went into the air, got burned by CP3 something fierce, and in an effort to make a play and kick the ball away he caught Paul across the…
Dec 20, 2013, 1:28 PM EST
Plenty of NBA players have wanted to knock down a referee. D.J. Augustin now of the Bulls (he just signed with them in the wake of the Derrick Rose injury) did so Thursday night, albeit unintentionally. Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson and Augustin were chasing down a loose ball and Jackson went for the soccer play…
Dec 20, 2013, 12:51 PM EST
This could be fun: Deron Williams vs. Michael Carter-Williams. Looks like we will get to see it because Michael Carter-Williams is set to return to the Sixers lineup Friday night after missing seven straight games with a knee infection. Officially he is a game time decision — because teams like to keep their options open…
Dec 20, 2013, 12:10 PM EST
Luol Deng isn’t going anywhere fast — and we don’t just mean because he’s in a walking boot right now trying to rest his Achilles (he hopes to be back Christmas Day). We mean on the trade market. Ever since Derrick Rose went down injured it has been the conventional wisdom that the Bulls would…
Dec 20, 2013, 11:45 AM EST
The 76ers have lost seven straight, 11 of 12 and 15 of 17. After a 3-0 start threatened Sam Hinkie’s plans – and kept Philadelphia in the heart of the playoff race far too long in the downtrodden Eastern Conference – the 76ers are right back on track. They’re losing and losing often, putting themselves…
Dec 20, 2013, 11:15 AM EST
Robin Lopez and Brook Lopez do not look alike, at least not completely. Robin, the Trail Blazers’ center sports a wild afro. His twin brother, Brook, the Nets’ center, has a closer crop. But is that why they don’t look alike now? Did Robin grow out his hair to look distinct from Brook? Robin, via…
Dec 20, 2013, 10:45 AM EST
Kobe Bryant didn’t mince words, and neither did Charles Barkley. “Only an idiot would” doubt his resolve to return, Kobe said. “Kobe Bryant shouldn’t play anymore this year,” Barkley said. Kobe is definitely right, and Barkley might be right. Nobody should even consider that Kobe won’t work as hard as he can to get back…
Serge Ibaka blocks Joakim Noah twice on same possession, leads to a transition three from Durant (VIDEO)
Dec 20, 2013, 10:14 AM EST
These are the kinds of plays that are absolute back-breakers for teams playing on the road, because it gets the crowd involved and swings all of the momentum in the home team’s favor. Serge Ibaka comes up with two blocks on Joakim Noah on the same possession, which is highlight-worthy by itself. But the fact…
Jeff Van Gundy says it would be ‘ludicrous’ for Knicks to fire Mike Woodson after timeout failure vs. Wizards
Dec 20, 2013, 9:31 AM EST
After the Knicks lost to the Wizards earlier this week by coming undone on the game’s final two possessions, there were some observers that believed Mike Woodson should finally take the fall for his role in not only that particular loss, but also how his team had underachieved to this point in the season. New…
Dec 20, 2013, 8:44 AM EST
In the NBA, guys often have good friends on the opposing team — guys they played with in AAU or college, guys who share an agent, guys they work out with in the summer. There is a camaraderie. Kendrick Perkins is old school, weaned on the Kevin Garnett “I hate the guys on the other…
Dec 20, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
In the early days of mixed martial arts, there were quite a few athletes who would refuse to submit in the ring. Their arm could be on the verge of snapping, but it didn’t matter – they wouldn’t give up. They would rather break their arm. I remember holding these athletes in such high regard,…
Dec 20, 2013, 4:47 AM EST
Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while watching my Long Beach State 49ers beat USC (at least that’s what I did with part of my night)… Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. He led his team to an easy win and how about this for a line: 32 points on 13-of-20 shooting,…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:55 AM EST
When the Spurs rest Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili they still are pretty darn good. Ask the Heat — last year Gregg Popovich and the Spurs were fined $250,000 by the league for late notice resting the big three for a Thursday night showcase game in Miami. What people forget is the Spurs…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:22 AM EST
Golden State was the more talented team on the floor Thursday night, but they ended up on losing to a depleted Spurs team. Why? The penultimate possession summed up the game fairly well — tied 102-102 the Spurs got the ball to the guy with the hot hand (Marco Belinelli) and when he missed Boris…
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