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NBA Playoffs: Up 2-0, Spurs still very beatable

The Grizz have em right where they want them...

Stephen Dunn

I don't care what the scoreboard or the talking bobbleheads on TV say, the Memphis Grizzlies have the Spurs right where they want them.

Lets starts with a quick history lesson.

Last year, San Antonio beat the Thunder at home in their first two games in a very similar fashion. The series then switched to OKC, and the Spurs never won another game.

Is this San Antonio team really that much different this year? Sure, some of the role players have improved (Leonard, Green, Splitter) but it's not greater than the Grizzly improvement. Mike Conley and Quincy Pondexter are miles better, while Jerryd Bayless has been a heaven-sent combo guard off of the bench this season.

'Pop' and his guys claim that the Spurs defense is better. Maybe, but the stats say Memphis was actually a better defensive team this year. The Grizz were ahead of the Spurs in defensive rating. SAS was 8th in opp FG% 48.1%...MEM was 3rd 43.5%. Lionel Hollins' team was 1st in league in opponent ppg and 6th in forcing turnovers. The blowout in Game 1 was a rarity. That kind of Grizzly effort on BOTH ends won't happen again. Game 2 was more like Grizz basketball. I see an avalanche coming in Memphis this weekend as their defense returns to normal, continuing to grow each game.

Ah, but wait, the history lessons continue.

We all remember what the Grizzlies did to the Clipper a few weeks ago. They lost the first two games in L.A. just like they did in San Antonio this week. Game 1 wasn't close, while Game 2 just slipped out of their grasps. It didn't matter, though, as Memphis won the next four games.

My problem with the Spurs the past few years is that they don't have another level to go to when the competition level rises deeper in the playoffs. This is why the Thunder blew past them last year, because they had not one but two players who could go to another level. San Antonio is a great team all season because of their execution and consistency, but you need to have another gear to go to if you want to make it to the NBA Finals. They haven't had that ability on their roster since 2007...when Timmy, Tony, and Manu were much younger. In this series, the Grizzlies will continue to get better each and every game. However, I think we've already seen the best of the Spurs and it won't be enough when the Grindhouse Grizz hit their stride.

Lastly, lets look at the key matchup.

The Spurs are much like the Clippers in that they're really a one-man team. They only go as far as Tony Parker and his paint-attacks take them. Duncan won't continue to out-play Marc Gasol, especially back in Memphis, while Manu hasn't been a 'game changer' since early in the Warriors series.

Late in overtime of Game 2, 'Pop' took Parker out for defensive purposes. It was a subtle move that spoke volumes. When was the last time Mike Conley left a game because he couldn't guard anyone? When Lionel does that kind of thing with Zach Randolph, it's front page news. In well-respected San Antonio, though, it doesn't even make the papers. I have a strong feeling that Tony will be exploited down in Memphis...and it'll negatively affect his offensive game.

The Spurs made 14 three's in Game 1 then were fortunate to win Game 2 in OT. Memphis, meanwhile, has a knack for getting better as a series goes on and wearing on the opponent with their 'grinding' style of play. Each game they're better than the one before.

I think we've seen the best of the Spurs this year...and it won't be enough.

Memphis will win this series in seven.