The San Antonio Spurs should be very happy with their first round matchup.
The instinctual reaction of a meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies is to be fearful of the impact that a bruising team like the Grizzlies would have. Normally they’d be a powerful threat to pull off an upset. However, this Grizzlies team is decimated with injuries and limping into the playoffs both literally and figuratively.
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Two star players in their lineup (Mike Conley and Marc Gasol) are out. They’d be drastic underdogs in a series with perhaps the most talented Spurs team in recent memory even with those two guys in the lineup. Now that they’re missing that huge chunk of production, this series has the look of one that’s going to be very brief.
The Grizzlies have lost 4 straight games and 14 of their last 17. Teams on hot streaks going into the playoffs are always a threat to carry that momentum into the postseason. The Grizzlies have no such momentum to speak of.
It almost isn’t fair to bring such a harsh indictment down on this Grizzlies team with the colossal injuries they’ve endured, but the fact remains that this is the best scenario that could have happened to the Spurs in a first round series.
This Grizzlies team is broken, and most likely already looking forward to next season to see if they can/should continue on with this core group of players. Gasol and Zach Randolph are an elite pairing of front-court players. Mike Conley is discretely one of the best point guards in the NBA. Matt Barnes, Lance Stephenson, and Tony Allen are all high energy, tenacious defenders.
This is an intriguing team that seems to be sticking to a blueprint that the rest of the NBA is moving away from. They’re a physical interior team instead of a finesse perimeter team, and it’d be nice for them to be blessed with a healthier season to see if they could still be a contender in today’s NBA.