Monday, May 20, 2013

Grizzlies - Spurs Game One: Team, Not Star

12 Inches Of Elevation
On one hand, you can safely disregard any Game One loss for the Grizz, since they do that sort of thing all the time, and all you have to do when you start on the road is get a split. But on the other, the way in which the Spurs won this game was new and unique, and reminds us, yet again, that every series is different.

In Game One, that difference was Matt Bonner. Unless you'd prefer Kawhi Leonard. Or Danny Green.

Bonner, the redheaded three-point specialist was all but useless in the Warriors series, but here, he's got a role and a use, and the four threes that he made in today's win are getting the lion's share of insider credit this evening. But of course, it's not just Bonner, since the Spurs hit 14 3's today, but you get the point. There's always been an element of Borg about the Spurs, who haven't just beaten teams with stars for a while now, but especially now.  Besides, Bonner doesn't make his first delivery until the Spurs are already up 23-12, and the first quarter is nearly over. People talk about how defense is more of a constant than offense, but today, well, it wasn't.

The biggest thing about games where you go out to a big league is not panicking if and when the other team makes a run, and the Grizz did just that in the third, using a Quincy Pondexter run from distance to get back within six. But a Manu Ginobili flurry got back the lead before the quarter was over, and the fourth quarter was mostly garbage time. Short of the opening Grizz hoop, this was a wire to wire job.

The Grizz can and will play better, of course. Zach Randolph is going to figure things out; he's too good to be held down by the likes of Bonner, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter forever. San Antonio isn't going to shoot 48% from the arc throughout the series, especially on the road. Memphis is going to do better at closing some passing lanes, and they are also likely to assert themselves more on the boards as soon as the Spurs cool down a bit.

But the Spurs' ball movement is unlike anything the Grizz have had to face so far this playoff series, and if they play this way again, they will lose. I don't think they will, but you never know, especially with 48 hours to think about it. Time for Lionel Hollins to answer the critics.

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