The San Antonio Spurs will look to take a 2-0 series lead tonight as they host the Memphis Grizzlies tonight at the AT&T Center.
Game one of the NBA playoffs is officially in the rear-view mirror.
The Spurs kicked off their 20th consecutive playoff appearance by dominating the Grizzlies, beating them 111-82. After the Grizzlies scored 30 points in the first quarter, the Spurs held them to under 20 points in each of the following three quarters.
Prior to the series beginning, the Grizzlies announced that Tony Allen would miss the series against the Spurs with a right lower leg injury.
One of the reasons I thought Memphis could make life hard for Spurs was Tony Allen could make life hard for Kawhi. Now Allen is out.
— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) April 13, 2017
When I originally made my series prediction, it was under the assumption Allen would not only play, but spend a large amount of time guarding Kawhi Leonard. Without Allen, the chances of the Grizzlies making this a competitive series diminishes greatly.
With that being said, I said this series would be a tough, grind-it-out type of series that will come down to the better offense, and that’s exactly what the Spurs were on Saturday night.
The Spurs put together a complete performance on Saturday night.
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Without Allen, Leonard was able to score whenever he wanted to, putting up 32 points on 11-of-14 shooting (78.5%), five assists, three rebounds and two steals. He shot over 78% on 14 shots in 32 minutes, and put the pressure on the Grizzlies defense to send double-teams.
This opened things up for LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting, including six rebounds and two assists. It also opened things up for Tony Parker, who also had 18 points, but did it on 8-of-13 shooting, along with two rebounds and two assists.
The Grizzlies were a one man show on Saturday night, and his name is Marc Gasol, who had 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting, along with five rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Unfortunately, the show started and ended there, as the second leading scorer was Mike Conley, who mustered up 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting, along with seven assists and five rebounds.
The loss of Allen for the Grizzlies really hurt their half-court defense, as the Spurs were able to get shots off whenever they wanted. Coming into this series, the Grizzlies were the best team in terms of opponents points per game in the paint. In game one, they allowed 40 points in the paint to the Spurs, who aren’t even a great team in terms of scoring down-low.
The Spurs shot 53.2% from the field, while the Grizzlies shot 39.2%. The Spurs shot 52.6% from beyond the arc, while the Grizzlies shot 35.0%.
The other advantage the Spurs had over the Grizzlies was their depth, and the bench proved that to be true, scoring 39 points on Saturday, while the Grizzlies bench scored just 25 points.
As long as the Spurs don’t focus on the results of game one, they’ll be fine. Just because the Spurs blew the Grizzlies out in game one, doesn’t mean the same results will happen in game two.
This is the playoffs, and every game is different. Manu Ginobli, a guy who is used to playoff basketball, expressed the same sentiment to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News:
“The next one is very dangerous, because everything went so well (in Game 1),” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “We beat them by 30. We didn’t turn the ball over. We controlled the rebounds. So we know they are going to come at us very hard because they know they need to win.
Conley only scored 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting, and Zach Randolph only scored six points on 3-of-13 shooting. So, we can expect these players to play better in game two.
Not to mention, the Grizzlies are a team who prides themselves on their ability to rebound the basketball, yet lost the rebounding battle to the Spurs, 43-35.
Favorites tonight for Game 2.
Spurs by 11 over the Grizzlies.
Cavs by 7.5 over the Pacers.
— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) April 17, 2017
Basically, the Grizzlies were outplayed in virtually every area possible, so fans should expect the Grizzlies to come out and put a complete performance together tonight.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Spurs will lose game two, it just means that they are going to have to work harder to win it. The beauty for the Grizzlies is that when they don’t shoot well, the physicality on defense, as well as the rebounding, will keep them in games.
Unfortunately, they just don’t have enough firepower to keep up with the Spurs, nor do they have a defensive specialist who can help to slow them down, either.
The Grizzlies will win the rebounding battle tonight, and shoot over 40% from the field, unlike they did in game one, when they shot 39.2%. Conley will score over 18 points tonight, and Randolph will get into double digits, helping ease the scoring load off Gasol.
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Nevertheless, Leonard goes over 30 points, Aldridge goes over 20 points, and Parker/Gasol score over 15 points each. Spurs close the game strong, and win this game, 105-97.