Sunday, May 19, 2013

San Antonio Spurs Ride Big First Period to Victory in Game One of Western Conference Finals

There is something to be said for strong starts. Just ask the Spurs—or better yet their Western Conference Finals opponent, the Grizzlies.

After a tough semi-finals round against the Golden State Warriors the San Antonio Spurs knew they still had their work cut out for them if they were going to make it back to the NBA Finals for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

They have to get past the tough, defensive-minded Memphis Grizzlies. After a 105-83 win in Game One on Sunday the general sentiment has to be so far so good.

It was the defense of the Spurs that showed up big this time. Marc Gasol got the scoring started off with the first basket of the night, but they were few and far between from there. By time the Grizzlies made another basket the score was 9-4, and by the end of the quarter the Spurs were up 31-14.

The game was a little more even keeled from that point on, but the damage was done. Over the next two periods the Grizzlies outscored the Spurs 43-42, but then a strong final period put the game away for San Antonio.

Tony Parker and the Spurs are no strangers to the Conference Finals having been to eight of the last 15 (including this season), and know better than to take the Grizzlies lightly.

"I can promise you this: Nobody's happy in our locker room, because we were up 2-0 (in the West finals) last year and we lost," Parker said. "It's just one game. It means nothing. We still have a long way to go."

Key to San Antonio’s success was the defensive effort they were able to exert on Memphis’s leading scorer in the playoffs, Zach Randolph, and their own versatility on offense. Randolph was 1-8 on the night and did not make his lone shot till the final period.

"Obviously, he's their best scorer. He's a beast inside," Parker said. "We know he's not going to play like that every game. It just sometimes it happens."

Tony Parker led the Spurs in scoring like he had throughout the regular season and playoffs, but the key to San Antonio’s game was from behind the arc. The Spurs made 14 three-pointers (on 29 attempts).

It wasn’t like the Grizzlies could clamp down on any one person either. Six players hit at least three with Kawhi Leoanrd leading the way hitting four of five, Matt Bonner hitting four of six off the bench, and Danny Green making three of his six attempts.

"We did a good job of moving the basketball, finding each other, trusting each other," Green said. "Luckily we made some today."

Memphis will try to even the series up with a crucial road win Tueday night before heading back home for Game Three on Saturday.

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