|Capsule preview of the NBA's conference finals|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 18 May 2013 14:57|
No. 2 SAN ANTONIO SPURS (58-24, 8-2) vs. No. 5 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (56-26, 8-3)
Season series: Tied, 2-2. Each team won twice on its home floor in a series in which three games came before the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay at the end of January. The Spurs rang up 103 points against the rugged Memphis defense in a 21-point victory on Jan. 16, but the other three meetings were decided by a combined nine points. The Grizzlies won the most recent one, a 92-90 victory on April 1 on Mike Conley's layup with 0.6 seconds left. Neither Tim Duncan nor Manu Ginobili played in that game.
Story line: Playing in their first conference finals, the Grizzlies face a Spurs team that blew a 2-0 lead against Oklahoma City in this round last year and is still seeking its first NBA Finals berth since 2007. The Grizzlies had never even won a series before stunning the top-seeded Spurs in 2011 in the first round.
Key Matchup I: Tony Parker vs. Conley. Conley finished with 23 points in that April 1 win, one of the many strong performances during the best season of his career for the player Spurs coach Gregg Popovich calls ``the real key to their basketball team.'' Even the Grizzlies' defense couldn't slow down Parker, who had a pair of 30-point games, 25 in another, and finished with 17 points and 11 assists in the lone blowout.
Key Matchup II: Duncan vs. Marc Gasol. Gasol, the Defensive Player of the Year, and Duncan were both voted to the All-Defensive second team by coaches. Gasol played well in the two Memphis wins but managed just 11 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in the Spurs' victories. He's averaging 18.3 points in the playoffs, a number that will hard to maintain if Duncan is defending him.
X-Factor: Danny Green. The Spurs guard was 1 of 6 in the most recent meeting and missed all seven shots when the teams played the first time this season. San Antonio will need him to make some perimeter shots to loosen the Memphis defense, a tough challenge if the Grizzlies use defensive ace Tony Allen on him.
Prediction: Grizzlies in 6.