Spurs-Grizzlies Means No Apologies


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SAN ANTONIO — Tim Duncan sat down heavily and breathed a sigh of someone who had just been asked to lift the back end of a school bus off the ground.

“It’s not going to be pretty,” he said. “Sorry.”

But the playoffs mean never having to say you’re sorry.

So when the Spurs and Grizzlies open the Western Conference finals on Sunday night, there will be no apologies offered.

Only elbows and hips, pushes and shoves, pulls and grabs and tugs and slaps and takedowns that could turn seven games into one gigantic bruise.

Having already dealt with the front-line size of the Lakers Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol and the aggressive play of the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut, Carl Landry and Festus Ezeli, the Spurs realized it was all just a warmup to the tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, for whom grit and grind is more than a slogan.

“If you thought (the Golden State series) was physical, it’s going to turn up about 10 notches,” Duncan said.

It’s possible the Spurs might still have a few black and blue marks left over from their run-in with the Grizzlies in the first round of the 2011 playoffs. San Antonio entered that series as the prohibitive favorite and wound up becoming only the second No. 1 seed in history to lose to a No. 8 seed in a best-of-seven series.

By the time the series was over, the Spurs were as bludgeoned as they were beaten by Memphis’ inside game. Duncan, who played with a sprained ankle, and Manu Ginobili, who played with a fractured elbow, were exhausted and exposed.

Now though, the Spurs are feeling like a team that is much more equipped to deal with the Grizzlies’ size and force, having added Tiago Splitter to their starting lineup and Boris Diaw to their bench.

“It’s going to be a big-man series,” Duncan said. “I think the size definitely helps us. We’re a different team than when we faced them a couple years ago.”

The 6-foot-11 Splitter was a rookie in 2011 and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich did not feel confident using him two seasons ago, choosing to go with 6-9 veteran Antonio McDyess in his final NBA season. Splitter played just 51 minutes in the entire season and did not set foot onto the court until Game 4.

“Of course, you always want to play, because you believe that you can help,” Splitter said. “That’s the part of you that is the competitor. But that is the past and now I feel good.”

In the four regular season meetings this season, Splitter averaged 10.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and was able to stand his ground against the low-post relentlessness of Randolph.

“Its just nonstop fighting,” Splitter said. “He’s a warrior over there with the rebounding and positioning.”

The experience two years ago gave the Spurs a head start on the rest of the league in recognizing the Grizzlies as powerful, growing championship contenders.

“I’ve seen them as a major threat for years now,” Duncan said. “Obviously, they beat us in the first round when we were the top seed. They’ve been a very solid team, a very good team. They have always played us really tough. We respect them and their capabilities and we’re not surprised they’re here.”

Popovich rates the Grizzlies with Miami and Indiana as the top defensive teams in the league. But the Spurs themselves turned around the battle against the Warriors and put the clamps on the backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson with a defensive job that was aggressive, thorough and a throwback to their old championship ways and days.

Now it’s toe-to-toe, elbow-to-elbow, hip-check to bump-and-grind with the Grizzlies at a time when the 37-year-old Duncan can see the finish line.

“This run this year is extremely special to me,” he said. “People continue to count us out, year in and year out, and we continue to make runs deep into the playoffs. This is a special one.”

And certainly no reason to say you’re sorry.

31 Comments

  1. JPD for life says:

    After predicting the high score 3rd quarter Grizzlies 1 point shot a 58, I can safely say that’s Spurs going to take this in five with Memphis getting the only win at the first game home

  2. Youmelous says:

    I wish the best for spurs, if it’s possible I’d like to see these series as the final..so no hate in the final!!

  3. Karl says:

    Wake me up when its over. Im ready for some Football. Warriors got cheated.

  4. Grandola says:

    Spurs sweep.

  5. Elijah says:

    I have to give it to the Spurs on this one. Out of the 4 remaining teams Tim Duncan and the spurs are the most decorated team out there. Folks have to be on some rick james to not pick them over anyone else. They have size to contend and Kawi and Green have made they’re presence felt. i just don’t see the memphis front court doing anything against this swarming defense. HATS off to the spurs in 5

  6. willie says:

    fran was accurate…. 2007 warriors def. mavs; 2011 griz def. spurs (the article was referring up to 2011 only, since spurs became only the 2nd team to be eliminated as 1st seed in a game of 7 at that point); and then, the 2012 8th seed 76ers eliminated 1st seed bulls

  7. latigo rapper says:

    I believe the Spurs will win this convincingly. As my form of support, I UPLOADED AN ORIGINAL SONG WITH A MUSIC VIDEO ENTITLED “GO SPURS GO (SAN ANTONIO SPURS FAN MADE RAP SONG)” Feel free to check it out in youtube. Go spurs!!!!

  8. blackmamba38 says:

    hahhah for this year nothing can beat miami.. after they’ve jst defeated the bulls.. pretty sure miami heat will be again the champion for this year…. those 3 teams left are too slow for the miami …. they need more practice and shooting goals to win…
    GO HEAT!

  9. cena21 says:

    actually if u read it again there have been five not four upset against a number one seed in the nba playoffs Only five 8th seeded teams have managed to win a series versus the number 1 seeded team: The Denver Nuggets eliminated the Seattle SuperSonics 3–2 in 1994. The New York Knicks eliminated the Miami Heat 3–2 in 1999. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks 4–2 in the 2007 Western Conference First Round (becoming the first 8 seed to beat a 1 seed in the best of 7 format). In 2011, the Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs, 4–2 and in 2012, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 4–2.

  10. cena21 says:

    actually if u read again there been five #1 seed got up set in the first round.. Only five 8th seeded teams have managed to win a series versus the number 1 seeded team: The Denver Nuggets eliminated the Seattle SuperSonics 3–2 in 1994. The New York Knicks eliminated the Miami Heat 3–2 in 1999. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks 4–2 in the 2007 Western Conference First Round (becoming the first 8 seed to beat a 1 seed in the best of 7 format). In 2011, the Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs, 4–2 and in 2012, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 4–2.

  11. joseph says:

    yo…. greg popovich knows what he is doing…. im a kings fan but i love this spurs team. gonna be great.

  12. Bugz says:

    It will be a very tough series and will surely go to distance. Either of this team is capable of beating the defending champion.

  13. J says:

    its gonna be epic!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. datboyfear says:

    i am a huge spurs fan….and bonner i do not like n the playoffs he chokes!!this series he better step up just like ayemero said he will b key for the spurs to bring the big men out and leave the paint a little less cluttered…if bonner is on point with those 3′s like the regular season i say spurs in 6!!!

  15. G says:

    Just like the bulls – pistons back in the 90′s. Old school!

  16. Ayamero says:

    I think coach Pop will once again use Bonner to counter the bigs of Memphis just like he did against the Lakers. This will be a game of adjustments. SAS in 6 games.

  17. A Kumar says:

    Once Memphis figures out how to take care of an opponent team, it is really difficult for the other team to come back. So game 1 and 2 will be key to the series. If Spurs take both then they have a chance to beat Memphis. 1-1 at end of 2 games is advantage Memphis. Tony Parker is the other key to this series. If he can set himself free to get open looks (and 3′s now) then Spurs can hope to make the NBA Finals. Overall I put Memphis as 60:40 favorites.

  18. John says:

    The 2011 Spurs were the *fourth number 1 seed to lose to an 8 seed after Denver over Seattle in 1994, New York over Miami in 1999, and Golden State over Dallas in 2007.

    • John says:

      Now I read the “best of 7″ part, so that sentence is accurate. The first two were best of 5.

  19. LALALA says:

    I am rooting for Memphis. Z-Bo is a monster not to undermine Duncan of anything but theres something bout the guy his game(Z Bo) I like it. XD

  20. Can’t be more physical than the Bulls-Heat series…

  21. Beto says:

    I think neither of this team could beat miami nor indiana. East is youngness, and west is experience. Both with confidence and fierce.

  22. MOSSjr says:

    Spurs… Better watch out for Z-Bo the wrestler… You might be the next victim… On the offensive, he scores, On the defensive, he wrestles… Because of his style – “basketball wrestling”

  23. Don says:

    Its hard to accept the truth that only one team will win in this series because i like both of them… And i just don’t like the heat except their coach..

  24. Perspective says:

    Better watch out- even with all the extra rest these days a series as grinding and physical as this one could leave them in rough shape to face Miami (if the Pacers win they’ll have been through a pretty rough trip themselves)

  25. Patty says:

    THE SERIES BETWEEM THE GRIZZLIES AND THE SPURS IS GOING TO BE THE SERIES TO WATCH.

    THE NBA WILL CROWN EITHER THE GRIZZLIES OR THE SPURS WHEN THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS OVER.