Making Sense of Game 1 and Previewing Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals


May 19, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) smiles from the bench during the fourth quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies in game one of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT

The outcome of Game 1 was such a surprise everyone, that we’re still trying to make some sense out of it. So instead of discussing this amongst ourselves, Air Alamo’s Lead Editor Michael Rehome, joined me in a little email exchange to see what the hell exactly happened.

John Diaz, Senior Staff Writer: So, where do I begin? I can’t state enough how shocked I was that this was a blowout. Did you expect us to win by such a huge margin?

Michael Rehome, Lead Editor: To be honest, no.  I had a feeling that we would display the energy that we portrayed, but not the shooting that we did, especially from three.  Before this series started I was thinking back to 2011 and how hard it was to get anything going during this series.  It just showed the genius of Gregg Popovich and what he can do to break down an opponent.  In game one, we saw they exploited the defense of Zach Randolph’s slow moving feet, Tony Parker’s penetration and kick out.  This and the collapsing of the Memphis defense on Parker made it easy for others on the Spurs to have an open look and just launch and not think about it.

JD: Yeah, it was definitely surprising to see how easily Parker was getting into the lane early on. The three-point shooting felt like just a bonus. Not to get overconfident or anything, but the Grizzlies defense looked so lost for all 48 minutes. I’m not sure how easily they can recover from that. Granted I don’t think the Spurs can maintain shooting 48% from three, but the looks in the paint are still there to take advantage of, no?

MR: For San Antonio, I think so.  Parker during the season was second in scoring in the paint amongst guards.  He is brilliant at getting into the lane.  Even if the Grizzlies made their adjustments, because we know they will in keeping him out of the paint, you know he won’t let that go down without a fight. Parker is such an exceptional passer as he displayed in game one to find the open shooters.  Even if the defense collapses on him, he can easily dish to Duncan or Splitter.

May 19, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) shoots during the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs in game one of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT

JD: Definitely agree there. So what do you see as any adjustments in Game 2? Let’s say the Spurs don’t match their Game 1 shooting or don’t try to exploit Memphis in the paint more. Is that enough? The Grizzlies weren’t just bad defensively, the Spurs forced them into holding the ball and playing a lot of one-on-one. Everyone keeps mentioning the Grizzlies will play better, so what do they have to do?

MR: We know the Spurs are going to come out to try and continue the play they had in game one. We both know the Grizzlies that we saw in game one will not be whom we see in game two. Unless the game one onslaught really has a strangled hold on the Grizzlies, and they can’t seem to think they can do anything right against this team. I see the defensive pressure of the bigs from Memphis being there more to try and keep Parker out of the paint. The Spurs won’t do anything different on offense. Pick-n-rolls is what they live by and they just do a remarkable job finding a way to still get to the basket.

Shooting wise, it would be nice if it continued. I see the Grizzlies doing a better job on the shooters, not sagging off of them so that Parker can find them while penetrating.

JD: Yeah, the Grizzlies will definitely do a better job of closing out on shooters. And offensively, Memphis definitely didn’t live up to their “grind and grit” nickname. Watching Tayshuan Prince isolation and try to post up on Manu Ginobili was laughable.

But even with those adjustments you mentioned, what nobody has talked about is improvements the Spurs can make.

You can’t expect Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to only have 14 combined points again. And even though Tiago struggled offensively, there’s no way Splitter doesn’t record a rebound tonight or score 1 point again. Somewhat scary to think San Antonio can still improve from Game 1, even if just a few tweaks. So with that being said, I see the Spurs taking Game 2. It won’t come as easily as Game 1, but I say San Antonio wins 97-87. What’s your prediction?

MR: As I didn’t mention Duncan and Ginobili’s performance in game 1, that is an area that I am not concerned about. As you stated, there is no way that these two will have this combined. I agree about Splitter as well. He will have a much better game.

When I saw Prince posting, it was like waving the white flag. He has no moves down on the block, but I believe they were looking for his height over Ginobili’s. Spurs will come out and Duncan will try to get going early. They will win game two. 102-87.

JD: Thank you for your time, Michael.