If you looked up the term "statement game" in the dictionary their might be a picture of the Western Conf. Finals Game 1 match up between the San Antonio Spurs & the Memphis Grizzlies. Going into this game many people were still soaking in the previous sensational series the Grizzlies showed us sending the lonely Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City home for good this post season. And with that said many people felt we could see a dominating performance from Memphis to start off the conf. finals. Not quite, as the Spurs did all of that taking game 1 of the Western finals 105-83.
The game started off all Spurs, and throughout the game it didn't change one bit. The team defense of the Spurs was key in this game, as all game long they stifled the Grizzlies at every phase. On the perimeter Memphis guards Mike Conley (14 pts, 5-12 shooting), and Tony Allen (8 pts) were pressured all game, and the most lethal attack from the Grizzlies the front court were bullied as well. Zach Randolph (2 pts, 7 rebs) suffered most of the punishment he is so use to inflicting, as he was 0-3 in the 1st QTR & a dreadful 1-8 from the field for the whole game. He was clearly affected by the defense the Spurs threw at him.
On the flip side we saw yet another big time performance from Spurs point guard Tony Parker. Parker made many sensational plays, and with his exceptional pick & roll abilities we saw some easy baskets in the paint. Parker finished with 20 pts, and 9 ast. And making their presence known in this series (while the other big 3 members in Duncan & Ginobli struggled offensively) it was the play of Kawhi Leonard (18 pts), and Danny Green (16 pts, 4 rebs) that helped sink the Grizzlies.
Matt Bonner aka "The Red Mamba" (12 pts, 4-6 3pt) also came off the bench providing some timely, and much needed 3pt shots. If today's game was any indication, you get the feeling that when everyone is contributing for the Spurs, there aren't many teams that can beat them.
Spurs Head coach Greg Popovich did a great job of implementing a sound game plan. And the main point of attack that worked out for his team was stifling the play of the Memphis bigs in Zach Randolph, and Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol (15 pts, 7 rebs, 2 blks). Those guys are the focal point of this team, and Tony Parker expressed that belief himself after the game saying if you make those two struggle you have a great chance of winning the game.
It will be interesting to see how Memphis plans on fixing their mistakes going into game 2, and if they can take one in San Antonio before getting back to their home court. However before we get to that point, the Spurs made a statement today, one that needed to be heard. This team is for real, and the Grizzlies better bring more than just hype to beat a team with championship experience, and sound play.
Game 2 of the Western Con. Finals between the San Antonio Spurs & the Memphis Grizzlies will be Tuesday May 21st, at 9:00pm ET. Broadcasted on ESPN.