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Grizzlies prepare for Sunday Showdown with Spurs

2011 NBA Playoffs: Game 1, Round 1 preview (April 17, 2011)

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The Grizzlies are in San Antonio for their first playoff game since 2006 and are seeking the first postseason victory in franchise history against the Spurs. The top overall seed in the Western Conference, San Antonio’s veteran club is poised to make yet another deep playoff run—unless the Grizzlies can get in their way.

Here are a few keys to today’s playoff game:

Playoff Tested
The Grizzlies don’t have near the postseason experience on their roster as the Spurs, but they are not without a few veterans accustomed to playing beyond the regular season. Both Tony Allen and Leon Powe earned championship rings in Boston, while Shane Battier has been a regular in the playoffs both with Memphis and then Houston. Jason Williams, though still sidelined by a sore lower back, was the floor general for the Miami Heat in their championship season, and Zach Randolph got his feet wet in the postseason in Portland.

We Meet Again
The Grizz and Spurs matched up four times this season, with the home team winning all four contests in the series split. The Grizzlies have proven they can beat the Spurs, but by no means do they anticipate doing so four times in seven games being an easy task. Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins responded to questions about whether he rested players in the regular season’s last two games to draw a matchup with San Antonio by saying “If I had a choice of teams this definitely wouldn't have been it.” With Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair and Antonio McDyess controlling the paint and Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and George Hill, among others, running the floor, the Grizzlies are well aware of the challenges ahead. That said, taking two out of four in the regular season—and playing the Spurs tough in the two losses—has to be a huge confidence boost for the last of the NBA’s 16 teams to qualify for the playoffs.

Eight Can Happen
Think an eight-seed can’t overcome the odds and take down the top-seeded team in the conference in a playoff series? Think again. Three times in NBA history, the eight has been great:

1994: No. 8 Denver Nuggets over No. 1 Seattle SuperSonics, 3-2
1999: No. 8 New York Knicks over No. 1 Miami Heat, 3-2
2007: No. 8 Golden State Warriors over No. 1 Dallas Mavericks, 4-2

What’s more, the eight-seeded Knicks went all the way to the NBA Finals in 1999, where they lost to—you guessed it—the San Antonio Spurs.

Check out the full Game Notes for this matchup.