Game one was the game the majority of people expected. The Grizzlies have been ravaged by injuries unlike any team in NBA playoff history. Both players who played the point guard position for Memphis in game one (Jordan Farmar and Xavier Munford were not with the team 2 months ago. They also played without starting center Marc Gasol after he went out for the season with an injury shortly after the All-Star break. Joining Farmar in the backcourt was 39-year-old Vince Carter who led the team in scoring and was one of only two bright spots along with Lance Stephenson on the night. Stephenson had 14 points and the duo was the team’s only double-digit scorers in the 106-74 blowout. The Spurs went 41-1 at home this season so the Grizzlies would have had a tough test even if they were at full strength.
The Spurs showed off their tremendous depth last night as when highly sought after free agent Kevin Martin appeared in the game in the third quarter he was the 11th Spur to play. He is the 11th man on the Spurs while he may be a starter for most teams. Martin and his 10 points were one of 5 Spurs in double figures. Lamarcus Aldridge had 17 points and was the go-to guy early on. Kawhi Leonard (who today was named defensive player of the year for the second year in a row) led the Spurs with 20 points, 4 steals, and 3 blocks. The point guard combination of Tony Parker and Patty Mills combined for 25 points and 8 assists. The Spurs are a well-oiled machine and their style of play does not change much regardless of the personnel. All credit goes to Coach Greg Popovich and the winning culture he has created in the organization. The depth and unselfishness is unmatched in team sports.
The Grizzlies would have a rough time with the Spurs if they were at full strength. If the team wants any chance of winning they are going to need to slow the game down and get the ball into Zach Randolph on the low block. He was 3-13 for only 6 points in game 1 with a lot of his touches coming out on the perimeter. He is the one player the Grizzlies have that is capable of scoring consistently. Carter can contribute but it’s a lot to ask form a 39 year old. If the Grizzlies want any chance they will get Randolph touches on the block.
The fact is after a game one demolishing the Grizzlies may need to settle for a few “moral victories” in game 2, make some strides by avoiding getting blown out early and stay within striking distance throughout. Set some kind of a positive tone that they can carry into game 3 with the support of their home crowd. The Spurs will be business as usual as they look for their 43rd home win in 44 tries.
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