I really would like to just give my prediction for this series and leave a sentence along the lines of, “Really? Do you need to know anything more?” That would be irresponsible. This is still a playoff matchup after all.
Memphis started this season with a starting five of Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol. After trades and injuries, Memphis is looking at Xavier Munford, Lance Stephenson, Matt Barnes, Zach Randolph, and JaMychal Green. Really, that’s all you need to know.
The Spurs, on the other hand, are statistically one of the best defensive teams in history. There shouldn’t be much trouble for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan to shut down that Memphis five.
Keys to the Series
- A net rating of 11.8. Defensive rating of 96.6. True shooting percentage of 56.4. A player that would win MVP in most seasons without Curry. Yes.
- Increase the pace. Look, there isn’t much of a chance here. But if the Grizzlies can take the Spurs out of their comfort zone, they could surprise everyone. Both the Grizzlies and Spurs are real slow teams but Memphis has the young players to push the pace.
- Let Stephenson’s freak flag fly. Who else is on Memphis is 25 and was a meaningful piece to a contender? Lance Stephenson was and is. Memphis isn’t going to win this playing it safe, so give Stephenson the ball and let him try to put it together.
The Spurs only take about 18 threes per game. Part of that is due to Green taking the fewest amount of threes since 2011-12. That’ll happen when you’re a perennial 40% plus three-point shooter and you’re down to 33.2% for the season. Green had a 49.1% peak in January but has not sustained any sort of quality shooting. If he can convert in this series, it’ll be done before four games.
Sometimes it just isn’t complicated at all.
Spurs in 4