The Western Conference Finals have arrived and the usual things that go with it were there Sunday afternoon. ABC nationally televising it. The typical south Texas hot weather, and all of San Antonio huddled around their big screens or walking into the great AT&T Center to witness the start. For Spurs fans, oh what a start it was, as the Spurs with the precision of a doctor from an episode of Nip Tuck, cut and sliced through the Grizzlie’s defense. The Spurs inside out offense was working to perfection as they knocked down a franchise playoff record 14 three pointers in the game. Tony Parker led the way with 20 points, and after that the other two big three members were NOT in double figures. Players like Matt Bonner, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard were in double figures for the Spurs in what was the epitome of a team win. Game 2 is quickly around the corner on Tuesday night and the Spurs will look to hold serve and send a message to not only the Grizzlies, but the rest of the league and media that this is a different Spurs club than the past two years.
Who’s Hot: Kawhi Leonard. This was a tough choice because so many players were shooting well. However, Kawhi wasn’t just hot from shooting, defensively he was his usual great self, and with no one that he really has to “key” on, he was allowed to roam and cut down on the big men, and contributed 2 steals and a block. So not only was he hot from deep, he was hot on the other side of the floor as well.
Who’s Not: Zach Randolph. Wow, it really was an amazing defensive performance from the Spurs on Z-Bo in this game, Zach struggled in all facets. defensively he was horrid against Parker in the pick and roll. Offensively he wasn’t much better as when he DID get the ball, he was guarded well and missed many shots. Now, everyone knows Randolph won’t have another game like this and will improve, but for one game, he was human.
Turning Point: In a game where the Spurs seemingly dominated from the tip on, there were few and far between important moments, but no more important than when the Memphis Grizzlies cut the lead to 6 in the third quarter with 3:27 left. The Spurs called a 20 second time out, and proceeded to go on an 11-1 run putting the game back out of hand. Manu Ginobili had a pretty good sized hand in it, get ann assist and 6 points, along with an assist to the resurgent Matt Bonner.
What’s Next: Game 2, Tuesday night at the AT&T Center, and adjustments galore will happen. At 8 o’clock the two teams will re-hook up in what will be expected to be a much closer game.
Tony Parker 20 points 9 of 14, 1 rebound, 9 assists, 2 steals.
Parker was in a word, magnificent. Parker was aggressive from the tip on, pressuring the Grizzlie’s defense with his drives that got deep into the paint and scoring, or dishing off to the three point line that lead to 3 baskets. Tony’s defense on Mike Conley was commendable as well as he held Conley down quite well and didn’t allow him much. If Parker can get into the paint this easily all series, and play this well? THe Spurs may be Finals bound.
Danny Green 16 points 6 of 9, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
In what is becoming a defining playoffs for Danny Green, continued Sunday afternoon as Danny was his usual good self again. Nailing open shots left and right and bringing good defense
Again Green didn’t really have to key into anyone until the second half when he had to guard and try and slow an immediately hot Quincy Pondexter. Like Parker, if Green can continue his good play, the Spurs will be playing games in June again.
Kawhi Leonard 18 points 7 of 10, 2 rebounds, 1assist, 1 block, 2 steals
The long arm of the law stepped up again. Bothered by knee problems all season and apparently the problems have creeped up again, Leonard, well, looked fine. His three point stroke was confident and solid, a carry over from games 5 and 6 of the second round. His defense was fantastic as not only was he able to guard Tayshaun Prince quite well, but he was able to crash down on the bigs and poke balls loose, get hands in the passing lane and totally disrupt an already ragged Memphis offense. The Spurs will need the same defensive effort from Kawhi in game 2, and after that, the three days off will do his ailing knee a whale of good.
Tim Duncan 6 points 3 of 9, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks.
Duncan had a game of two sides of the court. Defensively he was a master on Zach Randolph. He gave him space but had a hand up. He guarded the rim quite well and didn’t hardly allow a Memphis offensive rebound. When switched to Gasol he forced hard shots from Gasol and long 20 footers. The offensive end was another story. He turned it over, shot bad shots, and really played like his head wasn’t in it. To move forward its a giant understatement that the Spurs need Tim Duncan to play smarter and better on the offensive end for them to move on. Also, to make things easier on others, it wouldn’t hurt to try and get either Randolph or Gasol in foul trouble. To do that again, Duncan has to play smarter and more aggressive.
Tiago Splitter 1 point 0 of 1, 0 rebounds, 2 assists.
Yikes a rooney that was bad. offensively Tiago was non existent, setting good picks but other than that, literally non existent only taking one shot. Defensively though he was VERY solid. Tiago started the game on Marc Gasol and played him picture perfect, forcing forced jumpers and forced off balance shots and hooks that air balled at times. Tiago’s help defense on the rare pick and rolls was as usual good. Hopefully Tiago just had an off night because as with Duncan, the Spurs will need points and aggression from Splitter and will need him to contribute.
Bench 44 points 15 of 33, 15 rebounds, 9 assists, 1block, 1 steal
The bench was in a word solid. The shooting wasn’t fantastic outside of Matt Bonner, but the bench’s defense was good and provided the always needed spark. In a teasing shooting performance Gary Neal showed how good the offense can be when he plays under control, and makes his open shots. Corey Joseph was his usual high energetic good defending good rebounding self. Matt Bonner the story of the game off the bench with his huge 3’s made and great defense downlow on Zach Randolph. Bonner turned it back to the first round vs LA in this game and if he can play like he did vs the Lakers and shoot as good? The Spurs will be extremely hard to beat. Boris Diaw moved the ball well, defended well, but other than that was non de-script, his notable defensive error was going below a pick and leaving a lava hot Poindexter wide open for a 3 that cut the lead to 8. Manu struggled shooting again but pretty much saved the game from complete destruction when after the lead was cut to 8 he went on a personal 6 point binge and assisting on a Bonner three to help keep the Grizzlies at bay.