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


2011 NBA Playoff Preview – Western Conference First Round

(8) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (1) San Antonio Spurs


Part of any championship run in a professional sport other than football involves the ability to navigate early playoff rounds with relative ease. As the San Antonio Spurs try to recapture the postseason magic they once possessed, they know that they can’t just beat the Memphis Grizzlies in the opening round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. They need to efficiently dismiss them.

Yes, it’s not enough to win series in the early part of professional basketball’s postseason. Yes, there are definitely exceptions to the rule of rest and recovery. Sometimes, teams have won championships while being pushed almost every step of the way. The 2008 Boston Celtics were taken to seven games in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks but lived to tell that tale. In the second round, the Celts were pushed to the limit by the Cleveland Cavaliers but found enough juice to dig out a seven-game series victory. Boston fended off the Detroit Pistons in six games in the East finals and then conquered the Los Angeles Lakers in six games to take home the world title. All in all, 26 games were needed, but Boston eventually claimed the hardware at the end.

> Browse a great selection of San Antonio Spurs Merchandise & Apparel!

That kind of journey, though, is unusual, as was the path taken by the 1988 Lakers, who needed seven games to beat Utah (Western Conference semifinals), Dallas (West finals) and Detroit (NBA Finals). For the most part, a championship team needs to make the first two rounds relatively manageable so that there’s plenty of fuel in the tank by the time the conference finals come around. Since everyone knows that the Spurs are trying to overtake the Lakers for the Western Conference throne in a two-team battle that has the NBA’s full attention, it’s so important for San Antonio and head coach Gregg Popovich to get through Memphis – and then a second-round opponent – with as little stress and strain as possible. When the Spurs, whose stars (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker) are getting older and more fragile with each passing year, take on the young and hungry Grizzlies, the veterans from the Lone Star State will need to be at their cagey best. San Antonio must find a way to dominate the final three minutes of regulation time and pull out the close wins that can lead to a five-game series. If Memphis’s young bucks, O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay, can find a heightened degree of confidence and steal a win in San Antonio, the Spurs will be confronting the reality of a seven-game series with more battles on the horizon. A maximum-length series would put the Spurs at a big disadvantage if they ever last long enough to face the Lakers in the West finals.



As you can see, it’s not just Memphis that San Antonio is playing in this series. The Spurs are playing Father Time… and the reality of brittle bodies that own a lot of championship experience, but need to be maintained over the next two months of competition.


Pro Basketball Fans and partner sites feature NBA jerseys, basketball tickets and more for hoops fans of all ages.


By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer

> Read all of the pro basketball articles online from ProBasketball-fans.com.