Quantcast 2011 NBA Western Conference Playoffs: Round One - San Antonio vs Memphis


2011 NBA Playoff Preview – Western Conference First Round

Western Conference First Round Game 1 - Memphis 101, San Antonio 98 – Grizzlies lead series, 1-0


The Memphis Grizzles sure know how to make an entrance. The San Antonio Spurs have known how to close down playoff games, but you couldn’t have discerned as much when watching a Sunday afternoon stunner deep in the heart of Texas.

The eighth-seeded Grizzlies shocked top-seeded San Antonio to score the franchise’s first-ever playoff victory after 13 straight defeats. In their previous playoff series, the Grizzlies were ushered to the offseason without the taste of a single victory. Shockingly, that trend ended on Sunday afternoon as Shane Battier’s go-ahead three-pointer with 23 seconds left in regulation gave upstart Memphis the lead. The Spurs missed two three-point attempts in the final 15 seconds, and a wild Sunday in the Western Conference threw basketball pundits for a loop.

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For much of the season, folks in the NBA knew that Memphis had made great strides in competitiveness. Very few, however, anticipated the Grizzlies stealing Game 1 from the 61-win, four-time NBA champs. This was especially so in light of the fact that Memphis was going to battle without the services of Rudy Gay, who has been sidelined for months with an injury. A dynamic interior game was the difference for the number eight seed. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined to shoot 19-of-25 from the field and scored 49 points. The Grizzlies shot a sizzling 55 percent from the field, largely because they were able to make their presence felt within six feet of the basket. San Antonio’s defense is no longer the primary point of emphasis for coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs needed to score big in this series, and on Sunday, they didn’t do that.



San Antonio led for much of the second half and looked to have the game in hand after Matt Bonner’s back-to-back three pointers put the Spurs up by four points, at 98-94, with just 1:06 to play in regulation. Memphis had missed a cartload of foul shots, giving the Spurs the opening they needed after the Grizzlies had forged a 94-88 lead with 2:47 left. Memphis looked like the team that was going to steal a win, but the Griz’s free-throw-based woes put the Spurs back in the driver’s seat. However, two loose possessions by the Spurs’ defense, capped by leaving Battier wide open behind the three-point line, allowed Memphis to re-take a lead at 99-98 and, following a San Antonio miss, build the lead to 101-98 in the final seconds.

Trailing by three with 10 seconds remaining, San Antonio got a great look on its last possession. Richard Jefferson cast up a three-pointer without anyone in the same zip code. Jefferson’s shot was unsuccessful, though, and the home-court edge San Antonio had spent 82 regular season games acquiring had been tossed out the window.

We’ll see if the Grizzlies can make the Spurs sweat even more when Game 2 comes calling.


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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer

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