I had a chance to ask ESPN 1250 The Zone's Chris Duel about the San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies series starting tomorrow.
Chris, who hosts the Chris and Jason Show in San Antonio, had plenty to say when it came to the series and even said we may be witnessing the last of Tim Duncan in the playoffs.
"Your average Spurs fan may not think about it, but we might be watching Tim Duncan's last playoff run. Some experts believe that the NBA labor dispute will lead to a complete cancellation of next season, the final year of Duncan's contract," Duel said.
With this possibly the last playoffs of the Duncan era, Duel says Spurs fans should pay special attention to these playoffs.
"All the more reason we should savor every moment of the playoffs. Memphis is not the typical #8 seed. At 46-36, the Grizzlies come to San Antonio with a great deal of confidence and a regular season history of giving the Spurs fits," Duel said. "Manu Ginobili's recovery from his elbow injury will be a huge key to the series. He is the engine that powers the Spurs machine."
Duel says while most would expect the Rudy Gay injury to be a blow to this Grizzlies team, there are still plenty of threats on Memphis' offense.
"While Memphis lost Rudy Gay to injury in February, O.J. Mayo and others have picked up the scoring slack. Memphis' front line is bigger than the Spurs and Marc (brother of Pau) Gasol will try to wear down Duncan and force the Spurs to rely on their outside game," he said. "Given the Spurs inconsistency the final weeks of the season, we cannot assume they will sweep or win in five games. Thus, my prediction: Spurs in 6. "
Thanks to Chris for taking some time out to answer our questions and be sure to listen to him every weekday afternoon on ESPN 1250 The Zone.
I had a chance to ask ESPN 1250 The Zone's Chris Duel about the San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies series starting tomorrow.
With game one of the San Antonio Spurs-Memphis Grizzlies first round series just a day away, I talked to several local media and NBA bloggers to get their thoughts on the series and their predictions.
Richard Oliver, San Antonio Express-News and Fox Sports Southwest
The Spurs are built this season for 7-game playoff series. But against a gritty Grizzlies team, look for it to go only six. Spurs advance.
Humberto Cervera, News4WOAI
The Spurs seem genuinely upset that the Grizzlies tanked their last two games to get them in the first round. Combine that with the sneaky feeling I get that Manu is going to play in all their games, the lack of playoff experience from the Grizzlies and their coach and I'm saying the Spurs will sweep this series. Spurs 4 - Grizz 0.
Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News
This was going to be a test for the Spurs even before Manu Ginobili got hurt. The Spurs will have trouble with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and they are strong in some areas that are weak. They've pummeled them all season long, Mike Conley has improved, but he's no match for Tony Parker. And Parker will impose his will in getting to the rim and getting other players involved. Look for the Spurs' deeper bench to be the difference.
Spurs in 6. And the order I pick is San Antonio, Memphis, San Antonio, Memphis, San Antonio, San Antonio.
Daniel Artest, professional basketball player and die-hard Spurs fan
The Grizzlies have been rolling as of late. I'm surprised they made the playoffs without Rudy Gay. Big Z-Bo will be a load in the low block. We can only contain him. Beating Memphis will take a team effort. I'm a little worried about Manu's elbow injury, I hope it's not that bad. We're a veteran team so we'll have guys that'll step up. Our bench has been, for the most part, consistent throughout the season. We have three point threats in Bonner and Neal, a great slasher and defender in Hill. I believe this series will be tough but we'll win in six games. Duncan is primed and ready after playing limited minutes during the regular season. Jefferson has figured the offense out after struggling last year. He's better than I expected. As long as nagging injuries leave us alone, we should be fine in this postseason.
Rey Moralde, The No Look Pass
The Grizzlies look intriguing but, let's face it, they can't beat the Spurs four out of seven times. The Spurs, with that mix of playoff experience and youth, should be able to handle the Grizzlies quite easily... especially with Tony Parker having a field day against Mike Conley on the offensive end of things. At the very least, I'll be happy for the Grizzlies if they win a game in this series, which I think they will. But I don't see them winning more than two games in this match-up at the maximum. I'll say Spurs in five, though.
Our friends, J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas sent us their series prediction via their Basketball Jones preview show.
OK Spurs fans. Time to get your predictions in. Who do you have winning this series?
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• With San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili still doubtful after suffering a hyperextended right elbow, George Hil will be the player Gregg Popovich will turn to:
While Popovich expressed a glimmer of hope Ginobili may still answer the bell for Game 1, he seemed resigned to starting the series without him. “You have a day and half to see if he heals anymore and see what’s going on,” Popovich said. “But at this point, George Hill will be the guy who will start.”
“With or without Manu, George Hill is important to us,” Popovich said. “He’s a fine young player who does a good job at both ends of the court. Manu’s injury has nothing to do with George in that sense. Even with Manu, he’s got to play well for us.” (kens5.com)
• ProBasketballTalk.com lists Hill as the Spurs' x-factor:
George Hill, San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs count on their bench guys to come in, play the system, defend and knock down shots. Hill does it beautifully. He shot 37.7 percent from three and gave the Spurs 12 points a game, getting big minutes (28 a game). The Spurs bench has been their undoing (well, part of it) in recent seasons and Hill will be key to changing that this time around.
• Express News Tim Griffin says Tim Duncan's ankle is still not 100%:
Tim Duncan said he is gradually recovering from a sprained left ankle that caused him to miss four games last month. The injury occurred on March 21, leading to a late tailspin that saw the Spurs lose all four games he missed.
• Spurs fans know Memphis Grizzlies' Tony Allen can slow down Manu Ginobili and can back it up. Check out what he told Miami Heat's LeBron James:
“My assignment was not to let you score,” Allen was heard telling LeBron on the floor. “And I did not let you score.” (yahoo.com)
Usually the eighth seed in the NBA playoffs rarely pull the upset and defeat the number one ranked team. There are exceptions such as the 2007 eighth seeded Golden State Warriors defeating the number one seeded Dallas Mavericks but will the eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies shock the world and defeat the number one ranked San Antonio Spurs?
The Grizzlies believe they can and think the Spurs are a good matchup for them.
"We feel pretty confident about it," said Grizzlies forward Darrell Arthur. "I think it's a good matchup for us."
Arthur: "I feel like we can win a series."
Mike Conley: "There's no reason we can't play the Spurs and we can't beat the Spurs."
Look I can appreciate the Grizzlies confidence. Memphis has to go into a series with the right mentality and it's no surprise they feel they can win the series. They tested the Spurs in the regular season, went toe-to-toe versus the Spurs, and split the season-series with the Spurs. All this without their star Rudy Gay.
The San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies will kick off their first round series this Sunday in San Antonio and we here at Project Spurs have been breaking down the series.
However, what about the other series and the teams that can possibly meet the Spurs down the road? Let's take a look at the other Western Conference matchups.
Lakers (2) v. Hornets (7)
The Lakers versus the Hornets is the least compelling match-up. The Hornets have a good front line (West, Landry, Okafor) and whereas that would hardly be considered a liability in most playoff series, the Lakers have one of the most imposing front lines in basketball. The length of Gasol and Bynum, and also Odom floating between the three and four spots, is difficult for any team to contend with, but especially if you're the Hornets who lack a true seven footer in the middle.
Chris Paul needs to have a fantastic series to five New Orleans a chance. Fisher, Shannon Brown and Steve Blake are an adequate trio of defenders to toss at him, but certainly not imposing. If Paul can put a big stamp on the series with his scoring and playmaking, maybe he extends things longer than I'm projecting.
Ariza is a good defender and I expect to see him have a strong series against his old club, maybe even pester Kobe into a bad game or two – but it's not enough to stop a talent of Bryant's caliber from putting games out of reach in key situations. The Hornets lack the interior defensive presence they need (really, Okafor and no one else); the Lakers have too much size and too much Kobe Bryant. Lakers in six.
Mavs (3) v. Blazers (6)
There's a part of me that really wants to pick an upset here, but ultimately Dallas is so stacked that the Blazers – scrappy and upstart as they are – haven't got a chance of going into Dallas and winning one and then holding three at home. The acquisition of Gerald Wallace has done a lot to invigorate the offense, moving away from the Brandon Roy led offense, but there's a part of me that wonders if they aren't better off long term with Roy.
Per usual, I'm not impressed with the structure of the Dallas roster, which looks like a nice collection of names that probably don't equal a cohesive championship caliber unit. Nevertheless, this is a highly talented Mavs squad with a lot of offensive sparks and more options that Portland can check effectively.
The Blazers are good, but they don't have that honed, precision execution needed to close out big postseason games. I think the Mavs get slapped in round two, but they have the depth and scoring to get past the Blazers with only a game or two lost. Mavs in six.
Thunder (4) v. Nuggets (5)
Best series to watch, by far. Denver is 18-7 since trading Carmelo Anthony and they also boast the second best home record in the conference. Denver is balanced and they're deep; they have nine players who average double digit scoring and Kenyon Martin who is still known to contribute the occasional offensive burst.
For OKC – well, I love Kevin Durant. No, seriously – I haven't put posters of basketball players on my wall since I was a kid, but I'd consider hanging KD on my wall, and right next to fucking Batman, too. He's that good. If Harrington and JR Smith are the defensive options for Denver, that's not enough. Expect KD to have an outstanding series.
For that matter, I don't see Denver checking Westbrook either.
I like the way Denver has been playing shipping off 'Melo; they're able to spread the ball around more, they're getting better ball movement now that they're free of the constant isolations for Anthony and they're spirits are up as they roll into the playoffs. Close series – I see it going all seven games – Denver wins.
Each week, our writers will sound off on one topic of the week with short audio takes. If you are a Spurscast subscriber, you'll also be seeing podcasts with all of our takes together along with your weekly Spurscast.
This week we asked our writers to talk about the San Antonio Spurs' first round matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies and give their predictions. Listen below and then find out how to join in on the fun.
Michael De Leon, Founder -
Jordan Rivas, Writer -
Paul Garcia, Staff Writer -
Jason Rogers, Staff Writer -
Miguel Castro, Staff writer
Jake Faunce, Staff Writer -
So those are our takes for the week. Feel free to use our comments section to give your take on if you agree/disagree or want to pick who's take was the best.
Making the playoffs, averaging a double-double, and being a force for the Memphis Grizzlies, what more can Zach Randolph want? How about word he is about to get paid!
According to The Commercial Appeal, Memphis' Zach Randolph should have a contract extension by the end of today:
When asked if that was a sure sign that his contract extension was all but a done deal, Randolph smiled and said: "They're saying its close."
Raymond Brothers is Randolph's agent and he's been locked in nonstop negotiations with Griz general manager Chris Wallace for the past week. After poking around a little bit today, I'm told that the issues left on the table are so minor that a deal could be finalized and announced as soon as today.
"It definitely has a good chance of getting done before the first playoff game," said one source with knowledge of the negotiations.
In 75 games this season, Randolph has averaged 20.1 points, 12.2 rebounds and shot 50.3% and it is a much-deserved extension. He is the main offensive weapon for Memphis and has averaged around 20 points and 10 rebounds for three consecutive seasons.
Randolph and the Grizzlies will face the San Antonio Spurs this Sunday in game one of the series in San Antonio.
(cross posted: Crossover Chronicles)
• Good news San Antonio Spurs fans! Manu Ginobili says he is feeling much better after suffering a hyperextended right elbow in the last game against the Phoenix Suns:
MRI showed an elbow sprain (Ulnar collateral ligament). I'm doubtful 4 Sunday. Hope to make it. The pain is almost gone. Thx!
• Speaking of Manu, NBA.com raves about him:
Through eight seasons and three championships, the Spurs always treated Manu Ginobili as if he were a jar of nitroglycerine; volatile, explosive and in need of careful handling.
They watched him plunge himself like a cue ball on the break into every possession of every game, wondering when that scatter-everything-across-the-table style might produce a scratch that would cut short his career.
Now they simply watch and wonder just how far he can take them in a season when Ginobili and the Spurs have busted loose.
• The Hoops Report talks about the Spurs:
The San Antonio Spurs, the team Presti worked for before the Thunder, have maximized their value in the draft over the years. They drafted George Hill and Tony Parker in the late first round, and Luis Scola in the late second round. They drafted Tiago Splitter and Beno Udrih in the late first round, and DeJuan Blair in the second round. They've only made one bad first round pick - Ian Mahinmi - in the last 10 years.
That's why the Spurs have been one of the most successful NBA franchises of this era.
• RedsArmy.com spotlights the Spurs as a team the Boston Celtics must keep an watchful eye on.
• Express News' Tim Griffin shares his notes from the Spurs loss to the Suns.
• Former Spurs player Larry Owens was named to the All D-League second team:
Tulsa 66ers forward Larry Owens was named to the All-NBA Development League second team, the league announced Wednesday.
Owens averaged 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 43 games for the 66ers this season. His strong play earned him call-ups to both the NBA's San Antonio Spurs and his current team, the Washington Wizards. (ktul.com)
The San Antonio Spurs announced today that guard Manu Ginobili will be listed as doubtful for game 1 of their first round series with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had an MRI earlier today in San Antonio. The MRI showed that he has a right elbow sprain. The injury occurred in the first quarter of last night’s Spurs-Suns game. Ginobili has already begun his rehabilitation process and will be listed as doubtful for Game 1 of the Spurs-Grizzlies series, which is scheduled for noon on Sunday at the AT&T Center
If Ginobili is out, George Hill or Gary Neal will likely start in his place, which will be a big hit to the Spurs' second unit, which is one of their strengths over the Grizzlies.