Throughout the course of the past decade, the San Antonio Spurs have been a title contender, all behind the Big Fundamental, Tim Duncan. The past couple years, the team has shifted from Duncan to point guard Tony Parker.
Parker has been sensational for San Antonio against the Memphis Grizzlies. In Game 1, he scored 20 points and dished out nine assists. In game two, Parker shot just 6-20, but had a career-playoff-best 18 assists to help lead the Spurs to an overtime victory to take a 2-0 lead back to Memphis Saturday night.
Going into the series, many people–myself included–thought this would be a dog fight that would wind up being a 7-game series. The Spurs put that notion to rest however after the first game as they defeated the Grizzlies 105-83.
The more impressive feat about the Game 1 victory was that Duncan and 6th Man extraordinaire Manu Ginobili were held to 14 combined points. The Spurs got key contributions from Kawhi Leonard (18 points), Danny Green (16 points), Matt Bonner (12 points 4-6 from three), and Gary Neal (11 points).
Game 2 was an entirely different story. With Parker was finding the open man, the Spurs were in control. The fourth quarter came and that comfortable lead was slowly but surely disappearing. San Antonio blew a 13-point lead over the final eight minutes as Memphis went on a 15-2 run in that span.
The two teams headed to overtime and it was Duncan who helped salvage the game for the Spurs. The future Hall of Famer scored his teams’ first six points in overtime. He finished the game with 17 points and nine rebounds.
The Spurs saw all five of their starters in double figures, led by Duncan and Parker. Tiago Splitter scored 14 points, Leonard added 12 and Green contributed with 11.
San Antonio is in a familiar place. Last season, they went up 2-0 on the Oklahoma City Thunder before dropping the next four to lose the series. Will history repeat itself this year? Let’s take a look at what the Spurs have to do in order for that not to happen.
Tony Parker has been able to do what he’s wanted to the Grizzlies. He has scored 35 points and dished out 27 dimes in the first two contests. If he is able to keep this up in Memphis, the Spurs will have a great shot at retaining their series lead.
The Spurs are notorious for getting key contributions from a variety of players. That will have to keep up. In Game 1, it was a mix-and-match of the starters and the bench. In Game 2, it was mostly the starters, led by Parker’s tremendous game.
Can Manu be Manu?
Manu Ginobili has been nowhere to be found in this series, except for his flagrant foul on Tony Allen, with Allen putting on a Hollywood-esque performance to get the call. The Spurs have won without him being effective, but if they want to win the championship, they will need him to play like he has in years past.