It’s playoff time! And to get you ready for this highly anticipated, Tony Allen-less series, our Five Questions series makes its triumphant postseason debut. We spoke to Bruno Passos of Pounding the Rock, SB Nation’s Spurs blog, to get his thoughts on this 2011 and 2016 rematch. Check out his thoughts below.
1. First off, what are your initial feelings about this match-up? Do you like the Spurs facing off against the Grizzlies, or was there another team you would’ve preferred to face?
To be honest, the Grizzlies may have been the more preferred matchup in my book among the options available. I know they've gotten the better of the Spurs lately but my feeling is, at the end of the day, Memphis still lacks the scoring punch to push this series to seven. The Clippers and Thunder aren't perfect teams either, but memories of playoff losses to both of them are still too fresh in my mind to want to see them again in the first round.
2. How do you expect Gregg Popovich to deploy Kawhi Leonard on defense in this series? Do you expect him to be solely used on Conley, or would you expect him to match up with some of the Grizzlies’ wings to shut down some of the passing options?
Kawhi's not always been his most effective when trying to shut down little dudes like Conley and Chris Paul -- they're often too quick to let him use his combination of strength and length in the best way.
I'd expect Pop to try a combination of Tony Parker (::deep gulp::) and Danny Green to slow Conley down, while Kawhi shadows a wing and tries to wreak havoc every now and then with his help D.
3. Where do you think the Spurs’ biggest advantage is in this series, and how do you expect them to exploit that?
It has to be their depth. With Pau now coming off the bench, the Spurs have the ability to overwhelm opposing second units and break games open at the end of the first and third quarters. The four-man group of Gasol-Manu-Mills-Lee moves the ball very well and tends to produce plenty of open looks. When those fall, San Antonio becomes a scary team for all 48 minutes.
4. Is there anything in particular about this Grizzlies team that worries you? Any weaknesses that the Spurs have that you think Memphis can take advantage of?
Memphis' bigs. Beyond the brilliance of Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies frontcourt is full of guys that concern me. JaMychal Green, Zach Randolph still has a few big-time performances left in him.
Them and Troy Daniels, who has aspiring Spurs-killer written all over him.
5. Prediction time: What’s your official series prediction?
The Spurs win in five, very close, very low-scoring games.
Thanks again to Bruno Passos! And be sure to follow Pounding the Rock for updates on the Grizzlies’ opponent during this playoff run.