Game 1 preview: Spurs focused on Grizzlies


SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs begin their quest for their sixth NBA title Sunday night when the second-seeded Spurs host the seventh-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. This is when all the hard work of the regular season is supposed to start paying off.

"Ready for the playoffs to start," said Tim Duncan. "It has been a long year, a very good year for us, a good year to get our team kind of acclimated for this point. Now we are ready to do it for real."
Duncan finished the regular-season averaging  eight points and seven rebounds a game. But he only played 25 minutes a game so he should be fresh for the post season.

"When the playoffs begin everything is heightened. Everybody's competitiveness goes up and poise becomes real important not skipping steps (and) understanding what it takes to win. Hopefully we've got enough experience to understand that," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

The only thing that might be of some concern for the Spurs when it comes to health is that LaMarcus Aldridge's pinky finger on his shooting hand is still sore. With several days off since he last played, however, he sounds confident he will be able to do what he needs to do.

"I’ll be OK," Aldridge said Friday after practice. "It's a lot better than it was the other day."

Aldridge finished the season as the Spurs second-leading scorer averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds a game. He had some of his best games against Memphis. In just the last two games against the Grizzlies, he averaged 31 points.

The Grizzlies come in with more of a moan than a bite. Injuries have played a huge role for the team. They have had 28 different players on the roster. They come to San Antonio losers of nine out of their last 10.

With Marc Gasol and Mike Conley out of the playoffs, a lot of the Grizzlies’ game will fall on guys like Zach Randolph and Matt Barnes.

Even with the injuries the Spurs know what the Grizzlies are capable of doing.

"Very scrappy, very physical, they have a lot of guys that are going to try to run up the intensity," Duncan said.

The Grizzlies know pulling off a first-round upset against the Spurs will be almost impossible, although they did do it back in 2011 when they beat the Spurs 4-2 in the first round. This year there will be no room for error if they are going to steal a game in San Antonio.

"Be perfect, be absolutely perfect to come into San Antonio and steal a game in the playoffs, our margin for error is not existent," said Barnes.

"It is going to be a task, it is not going to be easy, everybody got to be on their game," said Zach Randolph, who led the Grizzlies during the regular season with 15 points a game.

Game 2 will be Tuesday night in San Antonio at 8:30 p.m.

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