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 2 - San Antonio 93, Memphis 87 – Series tied, 1-1

 

The San Antonio Spurs won a game they absolutely had to have on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center in the Alamo City, but if this is the team that’s going to stick around for the rest of the NBA postseason, the top seed in the Western Conference isn’t going to last very long.

Yes, San Antonio fended off the Memphis Grizzlies to even this best-of-seven showdown at a game apiece, but even in victory, the Spurs looked old and creaky. The team that won 61 regular-season games has not been in evidence over the past four weeks. The storyline of this game is not really the ability of the Spurs to win it; the true headliner is how close San Antonio came to losing.

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It’s really rather startling to contemplate: Memphis was a less-than-imposing defensive team during the regular season. The Grizzlies placed 13th in the league, allowing almost 98 points per contest. Given that the Spurs tweaked their team-wide approach to focus more on offense in 2011, San Antonio responded by averaging 103.7 points per contest, sixth-best in the league. As this series began, San Antonio definitely had matchup problems at the defensive end of the floor against Memphis’s burly tandem of inside bangers, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, but the Spurs’ salvation was supposed to be at the offensive end of the floor. Whenever in trouble, the Spurs could always score and light up Memphis’s defense like a Christmas tree. So far, through two games in this series – a series in which the Grizzlies are without Rudy Gay, a major point producer – the Spurs have failed to score in an efficient manner. On Wednesday night, they defended quite well and still struggled to land a knockout punch. San Antonio’s win wasn’t sealed until the final 10 seconds of play, when the Griz – trailing by a 91-87 margin – missed a last-ditch three-pointer and ceded what little leverage they still owned. Throughout a tense fourth quarter, the outcome of this game was uncertain; given that Memphis was the team with a 1-0 lead in the series, the Spurs really did have a knife at their throats. The gritty Grizzlies very nearly staged a second straight coup in the Lone Star State.

 

 

What pulled the Spurs through this time of trial was Manu Ginobili. Given the green light by coach Gregg Popovich to play after sitting out Game 1 with a persistent injury to his right arm, Ginobili made his presence felt in all aspects of competition. He scored 17 points, but he also grabbed seven boards, dished out four assists, and swiped four steals to blunt the Memphis attack. He missed six of his 13 foul shots to keep Memphis in the game, but his defensive excellence more than made up for that deficiency. With Tony Parker being quiet once again and George Hill struggling to a 3-of-9 shooting night from the field, Ginobili needed to fill the gap for a Spurs offense that isn’t clicking. San Antonio is not showing the form of an NBA title contender, and while a win is always welcome, the Spurs know they have to get better if they want to escape this series and round into championship form.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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