San Antonio Spurs – Kawhi Leonard Makes It A Big Four

Usually, it’s necessary for Tim Duncan to have a decent night offensively for the San Antonio Spurs to have a shot at winning. But when they simply can’t miss from beyond the arc, as Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green continue their evolution into the big boys club, Duncan could finish with 33% from the field, Manu Ginobili be no more than mediocre except for a few famous slashes while Tony Parker was the only one from the original big three that went on full attack mode, leading all scorers with 20 points.

The Spurs seemed to be saving all their three point shooting for the opening of this series. They were 14-of-29 from beyond the arc, which is the most anyone has dropped on Memphis all season from three, five more than the most the Grizzlies allowed in the playoffs so far. Five Spurs’ ended up in double figures, as game 1 ended in an unexpected route in favor of the Spurs, taking the 1-0 lead with a 105-83 win.

Kawhi Leonard Spurs

The Spurs are all about series openers in these playoffs, going 3-0, averaging 108.3 points per game and winning them by an average of 12. The good news in the long run? Only four teams have ever lost by 22 points or more in the opening game of a conference finals and have went on to win the series. The last of them were the Philadelphia 76ers in 1982.

It was simply the kind of basketball the Spurs have been executing better than anyone all through the season, only the open shots finally went in. The Spurs shot at 52.6% from the field, with Tim Duncan (3-of-9) and Manu Ginobili (2-of-6) were the only key players who finished under .500. Tracy McGrady, getting some chances in the end, and Cory Joseph, didn’t really count, or manage to mess up the team numbers.

Parker was the beginning and ending of everything. The Spurs kept working the pick & roll and pick & pop, as Mike Conely and Tony Allen couldn’t keep up with Parker, who either attacked the big man forced to guard him right away or took advantage of any minuscule opening in the Grizzlies defense to find open men. He finished with 20 points on 9-14 from the field, also adding nine assists. The Spurs finished with 28 assists on their 40 field goals.

Danny Green

Defensively, Duncan had plenty to be proud of. The best minutes were usually when Tiago Splitter was on the floor, but he played in only 17 of them because A) Boris Diaw did a great job during his minutes, both of them making Tim Duncan looked quite dominant (10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks) and B) The Spurs simply ran away with the game when it mattered, as the Grizzlies never recovered from their awful (31-14) first quarter.

Kawhi Leonard finished with 18 points, adding a few acrobatic finishes in the final minutes. He won’t make those shots each night, but the Spurs have no reason to feel discouraged: They kept getting open looks, which there’s no reason they shouldn’t continue to knock down. Danny Green was just as effective, scoring 16 points, including three from beyond the arc.

When Matt Bonner outscores Zach Randolph (hitting four three pointers) you know it was a good day, as the Red Mamba finished with 12 points. The Spurs played as good as they can as a team, and still didn’t get the best of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili on offense. Their opening game couldn’t have been better according to the end result, but some might feel they were still far from perfect, which doesn’t bode very well for Memphis.

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