Playoff basketball tips off in San Antonio for the 20thconsecutive spring when the Spurs host the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night to open their best-of-seven, first round series. The Spurs split their regular season showdowns with the Grizzlies at 2-2, with each team protecting its respective home court. Since upsetting San Antonio in their 2011 playoff matchup, Memphis is 6-26 versus the Spurs, including 0-28 in the postseason.
The Spurs begin the first playoff campaign in the post-Duncan era against a familiar, albeit dangerous opponent. Defined by the grit and grind of their “Core 4”, aka Tony Allen, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies play a physical brand of basketball that is fueled by aggressive play on both sides of the ball. Former Spur JaMychal Green has added a fresh element to the Grizzlies offense, complimenting a stingy defense that claws at turnovers.
Having dropped the last three contests heading into their series with Memphis, the Spurs find themselves in the exact same position as last postseason, minus Duncan. Although rest and matchups played key roles in San Antonio’s late regular season swoon, finding their playoff rhythm will be crucial against the rough-and-tumble Grizzlies. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard will be called upon to contain Conley, with Leonard leading the Spurs charge on the offensive end.
Awaiting the winner of what should be a competitive series will be the survivor of the slugfest between MVP candidates James Harden and Russell Westbrook. In the rugged Western Conference, the road to the NBA Finals ultimately leads through Oakland. If the Spurs can handle Memphis in four or five games as expected, reaching the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2014 becomes slightly more attainable. Spurs Round 1 Broadcast Schedule:
Game 1, Saturday, April 15, Spurs vs. Grizzlies, 7 PM, FSSW
Game 2, Monday, April 17, Spurs vs. Grizzlies, 8:30 PM, FSSW
Game 3, Thursday, April 20, Spurs at Grizzlies, 8:30 PM, FSSW
Game 4, Saturday, April 22, Spurs at Grizzlies, 7 PM, FSSW
Game 5*, Tuesday, April 25, Spurs vs. Grizzlies, TBD, FSSW
Game 6*, Thursday, April 27, Spurs at Grizzlies, TBD, FSSW
Game 7*, Saturday, April 29, Spurs vs, Grizzlies, TBD, FSSW