The NBA Playoffs begin Saturday afternoon after another highly entertaining basketball season. Here are the first round matchups, previews and predictions for the Western Conference.
A sports blog by and for Midwest Sports Fans
In a replay of the 2013 NBA Western Conference Finals, the San Antonio Spurs repeated their dominance over the Memphis Grizzlies in their season opener with a 101-94 victory. The final score was closer than the actual game really was, as the Spurs were up double digits for most of the second half.
Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals still resonates. For me, I still can’t understand why Boris Diaw had to knock a rebound out of Kawhi Leonard’s hands late in that contest. It was a play I saw Diaw do a few times during the regular season and I don’t get it. We have all played basketball and when you and your teammate are both going for the ball, you see the same jersey and know to let the closer man have the ball.
As you can tell, I’m still having trouble with Game 6 and it frustrates me more that the play by Diaw was never analyzed by the media. I feel like I’m the only one who noticed it, but if you slow the play down – the missed three by LeBron with less than 25 seconds to play – it is obvious that Leonard would have gotten the ball after Dwyane Wade slapped it. But, then, why wasn’t Tim Duncan in the game, anyways? Ugh!
Amazingly, though, there is true excitement this season for another lengthy Spurs run and possible championship. Marco Belinelli is the newest face on the team who is expected to make big contributions.
I will really miss Gary Neal, the undrafted product from Towson University who battled to make the roster a few seasons ago and then hit clutch baskets throughout many wins for the Spurs. Neal is playing for the Milwaukee Bucks and leads them in scoring after their first game Wednesday night, a loss to the New York Knicks.
I’ll also miss DeJuan Blair, who I think should have gotten some playing time in last year’s Finals. Blair is underrated and he will make a big impact with the Dallas Mavericks this season. He played more than 20 minutes for the Mavs in their opening win Wednesday night.
My buddy has been a Spurs season ticket holder for more than 25 years and got grandfathered in on pricing and the location of his seats. I got one quarter of his home games with two other of his friends this year. I’ll be taking my wife to most games. My first game will be against Golden State, November 9. I can’t wait, Spurs games are always fun.
I want to see the Western Conference trophy and banner in person. I’m proud of my favorite team for last season’s accomplishments and I’m impressed with their professionalism and ability to carry forward with enthusiasm after such a heartbreaking defeat. Go Spurs Go!
On Tuesday night the Memphis Grizzlies overcame an 18-point second half deficit to force overtime in Game 2 of their Western Conference finals series against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs came through in the extra period, winning the game 93-89 and taking a 2-0 series lead.
The climax of the Grizzlies’ late-game comeback was a four-point possession during the final minute of regulation involving a Manu Ginóbili flagrant foul on Memphis guard Tony Allen, a call that may have been influenced by Allen’s over-the-top reaction.
When asked about his teammate and NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies All-Star forward Zach Randolph told ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne, “we crack jokes sometimes about what he used to [look like] in high school.”
Ask almost anyone to count off the best active basketball players in the world and Kevin Durant’s name will be mentioned in their first breath. Many of those same people, however, will tell you that Durant doesn’t have the killer instinct to single-handedly lead his team to an NBA championship.
Some of those people will also tell you that Durant pulled a choke job in the Western Conference semifinals, a series Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder lost in five games to the Memphis Grizzlies. And many will compare Durant’s plight to that of another NBA superstar, consensus best-player-in-the-world LeBron James.