The San Antonio Spurs (0-0) will open up the 2011 NBA playoffs in San Antonio as they take on the Memphis Grizzlies (0-0) in the first round as they look to take their first steps towards title number five.
The number one ranked Spurs split the season series with the eighth seeded Grizzlies this past season and Memphis gave San Antonio fits the last two meetings of the regular season. There was also some chatter Memphis "tanked" the season in order to play San Antonio.
"They played us well the last couple of games," Duncan said Friday. "They feel they match up well against us. They chose to play us, they got us, and we'll see what happens."
Though Grizzlies' head coach Lionel Hollins says otherwise and hopes not to upset Duncan.
"I just want to say this for Tim Duncan," Hollins began.
"We did not tank the season so we can get the San Antonio Spurs," he said.
Heading into the series, all eyes are on Spurs' Manu Ginobili as he is recovering from a hyperextended right elbow he suffered in the last game of the Spurs' regular season but Spurs' Tony Parker feels Ginobili will be back in action today.
"For me, it's almost impossible he's not going to play," guard Tony Parker said.
To talk about game one of the series, I turn to Chip Crain of ESPN's 3 Shades of Blue, one of the best sites on the Internet for all things Grizzlies. Chip has also graciously agreed to be Project Spurs' go-to Grizzlies site during this first round series.
In this Q&A, Chip gives his take on the series, if Memphis did "tank" the season to play the Spurs, and more.
Jeff: I have to ask, is it true Memphis "tanked" a bit in order to face San Antonio?
Chip: Yes and No.
If you are suggesting the Grizzlies preferred to play San Antonio to Los Angeles then yes that would be true but that isn't the only or even the main reason why the Grizzlies chose to rest Zach Randolph and Tony Allen against Portland. The Grizzlies felt that the team had to be 100% rested and ready to defeat any of the main competitors in the West (San Antonio, Los Angeles, Dallas or Oklahoma City). If they fought at Portland (and the next night against the Clippers) they may have finished as high as 6th place but they would not have been rested for the 1st round games.
The Grizzlies did lose both games and insured that they would play the Spurs but that wasn't the main objective. Mostly the Grizzlies wanted to be 100% ready for whoever they played in the playoffs and if that happened to not be the Lakers so much the better.
Many feel the Spurs weakness is the lack of quality big men, especially versus the Grizzlies' Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Is this where the Grizzlies will strike at the Spurs or is it at another position?