San Antonio Spurs Playoff Preview; First Round vs. Memphis Grizzlies
With the 2016 NBA playoffs now underway, let’s take a look at this year’s San Antonio Spurs Playoff Preview.
After spending the entire season being overlooked by the Warriors, the San Antonio Spurs are ready for the NBA playoffs. 40-1. That was the San Antonio Spurs home record this season… And they’re not the favorites to win the NBA Championship. They’re not even predicted to win the Western Conference.
The Spurs did something special and they are the biggest challenger that the Warriors will face. A first-round series against a mortally wounded Memphis is just a speed bump, but hopefully one they can use to fine tune and oil the Spurs machine.
The Spurs are phenomenal. Their balance of athleticism and pure skill, size, speed, experience and youth is nearly unparalleled in the NBA.
The Spurs finished 66-16 and were first in the Southwestern Division. They won the division by 23 games. Leonard paced the Spurs with an average of 21.2 points per game. He also lead the team in steals and minutes played. LaMarcus Aldridge is their second leading scorer and top rebounder, while Tony Parker leads them in assists and Tim Duncan in blocks.
The Spurs finished the year ranked 10th offensively. San Antonio possesses the fourth highest rated offensive rating in the league, only trailing the Warriors, Thunder and Cavaliers. Even with their offensive game being amazing, the Spurs’ true mark, is their defense. The Spurs gave up about 93 points per game this year; the lowest total in the league.
Key to Victory: Teamwork
The Spurs are a well-rounded team. Tim Duncan will turn 40 in a week. Tim’s minutes are down, but he is still the heart and soul of the Spurs. Aldridge is an elite scorer in his prime, but he and everyone else on this team defers to Kawhi now. Leonard’s offensive skillset is devastating and his team’s success depends on his ability to get buckets.
Parker’s health is back and so is the penetration that was sorely missed in last year’s playoffs. He, Kawhi, and LaMarcus were the top three shot takers for the Spurs, and all three shot just about 50% from the field in the regular season. Aldridge’s pick-and-pop ability has opened up the lane a bit more for Tony and given him another reliable assist target.
Duncan and Ginobili have been fairly effective in limited minutes this year. Timmy’s jump shot isn’t quite what it used to be and he isn’t as dominant in the post as he once was, but he’s been doing just fine for the 4th scoring option. Manu is still a spectacular scorer and facilitator and he sure doesn’t look 38 when he drives to the rack.
Challenges Ahead For The Spurs
This will be first San Antonio-Memphis playoff series since 2013, when the Spurs swept the Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals, and fourth in history. The Silver and Black have won two of three playoff series against Memphis. They also eliminated the Grizzlies with a first-round sweep in 2004.
On any normal year, the San Antonio Spurs would be the favorites to win the title. Their home record is almost unblemished and they’re completely loaded. But this is no ordinary year. Getting to the Western Conference Finals will not be easy. The Thunder will be a tough matchup in the second round. Survive the second round and we will get a Conference finals for the ages. The ceiling for the Spurs is high. The ceiling for the Warriors is just that much higher.
(San Antonio Spurs Playoff Preview)