Each day that there’s a playoff game, we’ll have three things to watch in the NBA playoffs. Each note will be accompanied by a contest. We’ll announce winners after each round. Here’s today’s three things to watch:
1) San Antonio’s continued dominance. The San Antonio Spurs crushed the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, in a 105-83 laugher in San Antonio. The Spurs hit 14 three-pointers, shot 52.6% from the field, and never had a real threat from Memphis, who many anointed as the favorites in the series. Grizzlies starters shot just 40.9% from the field and didn’t have a shot after going down 31-14 after one quarter. The Spurs have one of the most consistent, fluid offenses in the NBA, and Memphis — who have both the defensive player of the year in Marc Gasol and one of the game’s elite perimeter defenders in Tony Allen — could do nothing to stop it. At home again in Game 2, will the Grizzlies make the necessary adjustments?
2) Zach Randolph. One of the aforementioned adjustments the Grizzlies have to make is getting Zach Randolph involved in the offense. Randolph turned in a terrible Game 1 performance, going just 1-8 from the field and finishing with just two points in 28 minutes of action. The Spurs stymied Randolph with a mixture of hard work and strategy — pushing Randolph out of the paint and swarming him with defenders that could help off their man. If that analysis tells us anything, it’s that Randolph can take advantage if his teammates show a bit more commitment to acting as a threat. Randolph averaged 16.1 points per 36 minutes this season and 19.7 per game in the first two rounds of the playoffs — can he counter?
3) San Antonio’s balance. The Spurs had five players score in double figures in a rout and Tim Duncan wasn’t one of them. Manu Ginobili wasn’t one of them, either. That should tell you all you need to know about San Antonio’s balanced offensive approach, one that values the right shot over the top shooter. The Spurs have a bevy of offensive weapons, specifically with three-point shooters. When they’re hitting, there’s a lot of points to go around.