The Morning Tip-Off

The Morning Tip-Off is where we scour the internet, to bring you all the San Antonio Spurs news from different outlets, all on one page. Here are your links for May 19th:

Spurs-Grizzlies: A Quantitative and Qualitative PreviewProject Spurs

For this Grizzlies team, 43% from three is one of the highest percentages on their team. The Spurs must be aware of Pondexter beyond the arc as half of his shot attempts are 3-pointers.

Darrell Arthur – 3.8 points (3.2 FGA, 49%), 2.4 personal fouls, Grizzlies are a -3.1 when he’s on the floor.

Arthur was a Spurs killer in the playoffs of 2011 with his athletic ability on defense and his dunking and pick-and-pop game. This year he hasn’t gotten much playing time in the playoffs, but Coach Hollins could still throw him out there to take Duncan or Splitter away from the basket if Arthur’s knocking down his pick-and-pop jumpers.

Overall, both of these teams look relatively even. Both can be forces on defense, but it’s the variety of weapons on offense that I think pushes San Antonio as the favorite. Memphis’ bench also doesn’t seem as strong and they will be relying heavily on Bayless to provide support.

As Ginobili and Parker reiterated on Saturday, if they just move the ball, the offense will come. My prediction: San Antonio in 6 games.

Spurs vs. Grizzlies: “It’s not gonna be pretty”48 Minutes of Hell

It’s a rematch in spirit and in pride, but what you’ll see on the court between these teams will be different this time around.

Still, it was only two years ago that the Grizzlies’ core of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley, along with their cast of characters, ousted the then-top-seeded Spurs in six games by just pounding their beat-up bodies into the ground. San Antonio was injured, but the Grizzlies were much better.

Randolph’s 2011 performance was straight out of ‘Space Jam,’ Gasol emerged on the big postseason stage and the pesky but talented Memphis backcourt suffocated Tony Parker and the one-armed Manu Ginobili. It was a national introduction to this new ragtag group of misfits and their old-school style, and it came at the expense of the Spurs. Naturally, these sorts of series are not forgotten in such a short period of time.

And I can tell you San Antonians feel it. The reaction to any mention of the Grizzlies is the same.

What do you think about Memphis?

(/takes deep breath /shakes head)

I don’t know, man. That freaking Zach Randolph.

Freaking Zach Randolph. Unexpected dagger after unexpected dagger — which quickly started becoming expected — quelled any Spurs-ian uprisings at any point during the Grizzlies’ four wins during the series, and it left San Antonio confused.

What just happened?

It wasn’t supposed to happen like that…

ZACH FREAKING RANDOLPH?

When you’re blindsided by an outcome like that it’s something you’ll always feel. The haymaker you never saw coming. And perhaps one of the biggest reasons any recollection of that series evokes so much emotion is what that elimination seemed to mean. Duncan couldn’t move, Manu was hurt again and Parker wasn’t close to himself.

It was the end. I was sure of it, at least.

Western Conference Finals: Grit ‘n’ Grind Meets Drive ‘n’ DashPounding the Rock

Here’s a number for you: 605.

You know what that is? That’s how many minutes that Richard Jefferson (176), Antonio McDyess (145), Bonner (123!), Neal (111) and DeJuan Blair (50) played in the Grizzlies series two years ago. Think about it: Those five guys combined for a tick over 100 minutes per game, meaning that at any one time they comprised two-fifths of the lineups we had on the floor. Given that, the question shouldn’t have been how we got upset in six by the Grizzlies but rather how we didn’t get swept. (Conversely, Splitter and Green combined for 57 minutes that series.)

The team is radically different. Jefferson and McDyess are long gone and the three others won’t combine for more than 25 minutes a game, at most, and that’s probably a very liberal estimate. Again, I said it before, you can call these Spurs a lot of things, but they aren’t soft. They’re not going to be punked by some team that’s “more physical.” As we saw last season, if these Spurs lose, it will be to some club who flat out has more offensive talent and athleticism. That’s not the Grizzlies.

Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies, Game 1Pounding the Rock

In Game 1, it will be important for the Spurs to come out and set the tone defensively. Although the Grizzlies don’t get many shots up, and have a very slow pace, they run a very precise offense, and are extremely efficient in running their sets, so the Spurs will need to play at a high level defensively to give themselves more possessions on offense.

One of the big storylines from 2011 was how the Grizzlies were able to control the paint against a smaller San Antonio team. And while Memphis still has an extremely talented frontcourt led by Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, whose dominance from 2011 will be remembered, the Spurs are no longer a team that can be pushed around in the post. Tiago Splitter has grown from a rookie waiting to be dominated, to a mobile defender, able to hold his own versus whichever post player he might be guarding. Whenever he is teamed up with Tim Duncan (who has been so much better than he was in 2011), they make a defensive presence in the post, able to navigate the whole floor and defend against anything ranging from post ups to pick-and-roll attacks.

Spurs-Grizzlies Means No ApologiesNBA.com

The experience two years ago gave the Spurs a head start on the rest of the league in recognizing the Grizzlies as powerful, growing championship contenders.

“I’ve seen them as a major threat for years now,” Duncan said. “Obviously, they beat us in the first round when we were the top seed. They’ve been a very solid team, a very good team. They have always played us really tough. We respect them and their capabilities and we’re not surprised they’re here.”

Popovich rates the Grizzlies with Miami and Indiana as the top defensive teams in the league. But the Spurs themselves turned around the battle against the Warriors and put the clamps on the backcourt ofStephen Curry and Klay Thompson with a defensive job that was aggressive, thorough and a throwback to their old championship ways and days.

Now it’s toe-to-toe, elbow-to-elbow, hip-check to bump-and-grind with the Grizzlies at a time when the 37-year-old Duncan can see the finish line.

“This run this year is extremely special to me,” he said. “People continue to count us out, year in and year out, and we continue to make runs deep into the playoffs. This is a special one.”

And certainly no reason to say you’re sorry.

Topics: 48 Minutes Of Hell, Memphis Grizzlies, NBA.com, Pounding The Rock, Project Spurs, San Antonio Spurs, The Morning Tip-Off

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