NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals – Grizzlies vs. Spurs
Eric Roberts 2013-05-18 in SBO Weekly
2013 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals – Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs
To Win Series Odds: Grizzlies +115 – Spurs -135
Odds are provided by TopBet, one of the world’s top sportsbooks and our choice for NBA betting.
The Western Conference Finals kickoff on Sunday, May 19th as the Memphis Grizzlies take on the San Antonio Spurs for a spot in this year’s NBA Finals. Much to the chagrin of David Stern and his team of executives, one of these two small market teams will take the National Stage in a few weeks.
For the Memphis Grizzlies, this has been their best season in franchise history, even if it ends with a loss to the Spurs. They set a franchise record in regular season wins with 56 in 2013 and have made their first ever Western Conference Finals. After taking care of the Clippers in the First Round, a series that went to six games, they faced powerhouse Oklahoma City.
Fortunately for Memphis, the Thunder were missing their second best player in point guard Russell Westbrook. The Thunder could not handle the Grizz and Memphis dispatched them quickly winning the series in five games.
As new as this playoff experience is for the Grizzlies, it is the same old, same old for the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have won four titles since 1999 and will be making their 8th Western Conference Finals appearance in the last 15 years. Gregg Popovich’s team is no stranger to this stage and the pressure that comes with it.
San Antonio thrashed a hobbled LA Lakers squad in the first round, sweeping the Lakers. The semi-finals were a bit tougher. The Spurs were pushed to six games against the upstart Golden State Warriors, but ultimately took the series.
These teams are no strangers to each other. In 2011, Memphis upset San Antonio in the First Round of the playoffs. San Antonio was the top seed in the West and Memphis was the last team to sneak into the playoffs as an eighth seed.
In this year’s regular season, the teams split four head to head meetings. Both teams won at home, and two of the games went into overtime.
The media can spin this as young versus old series, and while the Spurs are one of the older teams in the NBA, Memphis is full of veterans who do not seem to be shell-shocked or surprised to be in the position they are in right now.
Both teams are similar in style, and look to force their opponents into semi-low scoring slugfests. The Spurs are one of the best teams on both sides of the ball and are experts in ball movement. They led the NBA in assists in 2013.
The Spurs even held the high scoring Warriors to under 100 points in their last four games. Spurs’ Coach Greg Popovich is one of the best ever at adjusting his game plan depending on whom his opponents are.
San Antonio’s three headed monster of Tony Parker, Many Ginobilli, and Tim Duncan are responsible for the lion’s share of their victories and will again need to come up big in this series. Of course, the Spurs have a nice supporting cast of players, including Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, as well.
Parker’s play will be crucial this series as the Memphis frontcourt is stacked. He will need make every possession count and must be able to score against Conley. Duncan has been more than impressive this season – especially at age 37 – but he faces his toughest test yet against Marc Gasol. Ginobilli will face perhaps the best perimeter defender in the league in Tony Allen, which will no doubt be tough to overcome.
Memphis is playing their best basketball of the year right now, and everything seems to be clicking. If the Grizzlies perform well offensively, they will have an excellent chance of winning this series. Their best asset has been their defense, which has been a constant all year long.
Memphis was ranked number one in points per game allowed in the regular season, at 89.3. Even when they are in a shooting slump, they are able to hang around and have a chance to win the game in the final minutes.
Point guard Mike Conley has been absolutely awesome in this year’s playoffs. He is not only a top defender at point guard but has been lighting up the stat street with near triple doubles in rebounds, points and assists, nearly every night. Tony Allen is excellent on the drive, and as we mentioned above, the best defender left in these playoffs.
However, where Memphis genuinely shines is inside. Marc Gasol is considered the NBA’s best center to some, and while he may not be the best, he is certainly in the discussion. Strong inside, but also with a mid-range touch, he is extremely hard to defend and also one of the league’s best interior defenders. He won this year’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. Zach Randolph is the other big the Spurs will have to worry about, and he is also having an excellent playoffs. He led the Grizzlies in the Game 5 against Oklahoma City, finishing with 28 points and 14 boards.
Memphis at +115 is hard to resist for several reasons. Most importantly, the tough series the Spurs just endured against Golden State, where they were run ragged all through the series chasing after Steph Curry and the small lineup of the Warriors.
Memphis is somewhat quick on the perimeter and can be tough to defend, especially if Conley continues to play well. Parker is not known for his defense and the Spurs are an older team coming directly off a long series. Though Duncan has played impressive this year, Gasol is a much better player at this point in his career. Memphis will not let the Spurs match them with scoring as they did when they faced Golden State. Although San Antonio was second in three point percentage in the regular season, and shot the ball well from deep against the Warriors – we do not think that happens in this series.
Sometimes teams have that unique aura of confidence when they are coming of age and are finally ready to dominate. The Grizzlies have that quiet confidence, rare for a team that has never made it this far before. Popovich is the best coach in the NBA, but we’re not sure he can make up for the athleticism and depth that the Grizzlies possess.
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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