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West Finals: Game 1 Preview


Both teams are rested, their batteries are charged and now it’s time to get the Western Conference Finals revved up and ready to go.

Today, the Memphis Grizzlies visit the San Antonio Spurs in game one of the West Finals, a series that is expected to be the toughest and most physical either team has seen in the postseason thus far.

The Spurs have been here plenty of times before – including last season, when they blew a 2-0 series lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder – but they haven’t hoisted the championship trophy since 2007, so we should expect the Spurs to come into game one as hungry and driven as ever.

“We understand as a team that those opportunities are very rare, and we have another great one right now,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said, according to ESPN.com. “We have home-court advantage against a very good team, so we have to take full advantage of it.”

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are making their first ever West Finals appearance, but don’t expect Memphis to be wide-eyed and grateful to simply have advanced this far. They too have their sights set on winning the entire thing.

“We’re just worried about going forward,” Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said. “We’re happy to be here, but we’re still focused on bigger things, and we got another tough opponent.”

The teams last met in the postseason in the 2011 Western quarterfinals, where the Grizzlies won their first postseason series in franchise history by ousting San Antonio in six games. San Antonio struggled to stop Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph then and they’ll have to deal with Memphis’ two big men inside once again this year.

“We started with the wrong foot, we lost the first one and they got stronger and confident, and that’s how they beat us,” Ginobili said.

During the regular season, the teams appeared very evenly matched, splitting the series 2-2. Two of their regular season battles even went to overtime and those games were split as well, 1-1.

That likely means both squads are in for a long series, so game one might not be the most important game, but there’s no doubt both teams want to get their confidence up early and impose their will on their opponent.

And that’s what this series will most likely be about. Memphis comes in with the league’s best defense and San Antonio finished the regular season ranked third in defensive efficiency. Both teams are prepared to grind it out and keep their opponent off the glass.

San Antonio has the home court edge in game one and that may be enough of a reason to like the Spurs with these teams stacking up so close to one another. But considering the Spurs only won one game against Memphis this year by more than four points, it’s hard to like them on the spread today, especially with the heightened conditions of a postseason game.

Like the series, game one will likely come down to the wire and Memphis certainly has a good chance to pull ahead sitting on an extra day of rest after eliminating the Thunder in five games. I still like the experienced Spurs to win the series, but I like Memphis to cover +4.5 today in what will be a narrow margin of victory either way.

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