Tony Parker, Zach Randolph

Western Conference Finals preview: Grizzlies vs. Spurs



Memphis: 56-26, fifth seed in the West

San Antonio: 58-24, second seed in the West


Memphis: Beat the Clippers 4-2 in the first round. Beat the Thunder 4-1 in the second round.

San Antonio: Beat the Lakers 4-0 in the first round. Beat the Warriors 4-2 in the second round.


The teams split the four games with two wins apiece, although both are very different now. In the first three matchups the Grizzlies started Rudy Gay, and in the final meeting, the Spurs started Stephen Jackson and played him 35 minutes. Neither players are with their respective teams anymore, with Gay being traded in late January and Jackson being waived in mid-April.



OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possession) – PLAYOFFS ONLY

Memphis: Offense 104.4 (5th in the postseason), Defense 99.9 (6th in the postseason)

San Antonio: Offense 107.0 (2nd in the postseason), Defense 96.2 (3rd in the postseason)


Point guard matchup: It’s not an understatement to say that the team that gets the better of its point guard matchup is likely to win the series. That’s because both Tony Parker and Mike Conley are extremely vital to what each team does offensively. While Parker often takes on the role of a primary scorer in the current iteration of the Spurs, his dribble penetration and overall performance is what makes his team’s offense go. Parker is averaging 22.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 6.3 assists in the postseason.

As important as Parker is, Conley is even more critical in setting up his team’s offense. That’s because Memphis doesn’t have the range of guys who can create their own looks that the Spurs do, and the Grizzlies’ offense has been known to stall for extended stretches even during their impressive postseason run. Conley’s improved play over the second half of the season has carried into the playoffs, and he’ll need to continue to perform at a very high level for his team to succeed.

Battle of the bigs: From a matchup perspective, Memphis would appear to to have the upper hand here — not only in terms the total amount of skill shared between Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph versus that of Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, but also in terms of sheer bulk. Memphis has the physical size to punish teams both in the paint and on the glass, so it will be crucial for the Spurs’ big men to be in strong position defensively early in possessions to keep Randolph from establishing deep post position. Gasol spends more time at the high post than on the low block, where he’s an excellent facilitator of the Grizzlies offense.

Scoring: Offense will be at a premium in this series. Not only do we have two of the more defensively-focused teams going at it, but each has excellent individual defenders as well as players who have strong basketball IQs and can fit seamlessly into their respective team’s defensive scheme.

The balance of the Spurs and their ability to get contributions from multiple players on this end of the floor should be the difference in this series. Parker’s ability to consistently knock down mid-range jumpers will be huge for San Antonio, as will his effectiveness in getting into the lane to create for drive-and-kick opportunities for his teammates. The Grizzlies have largely gotten by in these playoffs by scoring just enough. If the Memphis defense has more trouble slowing the Spurs offensive attack than it had versus its opponents in the first two rounds, that might not be good enough this time.


While the Grizzlies have accomplished a lot in the first two rounds of the playoffs and were impressive at times on the way to the Conference Finals, let’s look at the reality of that last series against the Thunder. OKC was playing without Russell Westbrook, and was thrown into complete disarray in trying to replace what he brings to the table for them offensively. And still, all of those games were extremely close, and could have gone either way in the final minutes.

Expect the Spurs to be much more cohesive as a unit in playing their brand of system basketball than the Thunder were, and expect Memphis to have more difficulty in slowing San Antonio offensively because of it. In a series where both teams can defend, San Antonio should have a much easier time slowing the Grizzlies than the other way around, and it might result in this matchup not being as close as many foresee.


Spurs in 6.

Patrick Patterson begs: “Please don’t make Space Jam 2”

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LeBron James‘ production company signed a development deal with Warner Bros. That would be the same Warner Bros. which extended its trademark on “Space Jam” recently. Rumors of LeBron starring in Space Jam 2 have been swirling for years. If they do it, Blake Griffin wants in.

Patrick Patterson wants the entire thing to stop.

Writing at The Players’ Tribune, the Raptors forward begs for there not to be a sequel to the Michael Jordan original.

I’m a huge movie fan. Movies are a big part of my life. This summer I even had the opportunity to help cover the Toronto International Film Festival for the CBC. So please know that I don’t say this lightly: The original Space Jam is the perfect movie. The. Perfect. Movie. It is a cinematic experience.

And that’s why, for the sake of preserving its greatness, we must never try to improve upon it.

To make a sequel to Space Jam would be like trying to paint the Mona Lisa again. Sure, you can probably do it, but why the hell would you want to?

First off, not sure the realism of Renaissance art is the best comparison for Space Jam. It was more cubist Picasso at best.

But I appreciate what Patterson is saying. If someone decided to remake “Godfather II” I’d march in protest. If they decided to remake “Network” I’d… actually, that’s pretty much what the news looks like now.

Patterson’s love of Space Jam exceeds mine (he calls Bill Murray the glue guy of the film), and I respect that. But this sequel is happening, and even Patterson knows why — money. A lot of people are going to make a lot of money on this movie, even if it gets a 28% at Rotten Tomatoes.  Warner Bros. is not in the business of making good movies, it’s in the business of making money through movies, and franchises go a long way down that road for studios.

Let’s just hope the take the time to get a decent script together for this. Nobody wants another Godfather III on our hands.

Atlanta Hawks waive Jarrett Jack

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 28: Jarrett Jack #2 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice:  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Last summer, the Atlanta Hawks signed Jarrett Jack to provide a veteran backup for Dennis Schroder.

But Jack has not recovered from the major knee injury that ended his season after 32 games. He hadn’t played with the Hawks throughout the preseason.

Thursday, the Hawks waived Jack, the team announced. He had a guaranteed contract for the veteran minimum (just less than $1 million), and he will still get paid. The Hawks just wanted the roster space and didn’t see him returning soon enough to help them.

If he can get healthy and prove it, another team will likely grab him during the season (some team will suffer point guard injuries and be in the market). For now, he has a lot of rehab in his future.

Malcolm Delaney, the former Virginia Tech star who spent the last five seasons playing overseas, will not be the Hawks backup point.

Report: New CBA deal “within sight,” one-and-done rule remians

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23:  Commissioner Adam Silver concludes the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 23, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Nobody likes the NBA’s one-and-done rule. Adam Silver and the owners want to extend that to two seasons out of high school, and they have colleges in their corner (while a couple of coaches know how to work the one-and-done system, none of them prefer it). The players want to be able to make the leap from high school straight to the NBA — if you’re 18 and good enough to play, you should be allowed to play.

The result of that will be the compromise nobody loves will stay in place.

The league and NBA’s players union met again on Thursday, and the two sides got close to a deal, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Also, the rookie and veteran minimum scale deals will increase, plus the “over 36 rule” (which prohibits a player from signing a five-year deal if he turns 36 during the deal, it can only be four years) will be changed to an “over 38 rule” according to Wojnarowski.

We knew before today was the revenue split between the owners and players would remain the roughly 50-50 split agreed to in the last CBA — and once the money is figured out everything else usually falls in line. The players are pushing or a fund to help retired players who need assistance with medical and other expenses, that seems to have traction with the league as well.

Adam Silver is meeting with the NBA owners the next couple of days and much of the discussion will certainly center around what is in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, with all the money flooding the system with the new television deal — it wasn’t just the players getting an infusion of cash into salaries, the other half of the money went straight to the owners’ bottom lines — it’s expected a deal gets done. Nobody wants to kill the golden goose.

NBA to broadcast one game a week in virtual reality

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13:  Customers try the new PlayStation VR at Sony Square NYC on October 13, 2016 in New York City.  Sony launched its $399 PlayStation VR that links to PlayStation 4  to give gamers a virtual reality gaming experience.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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If you’re already playing “Sonar” or “Feral Rites” or just “The Lab” in virtual reality, why not get a closeup look at Stephen Curry draining a deep three, or Rudy Gobert rejecting a shot at the rim. And I don’t mean in a video game.

The NBA is going to start broadcasting one game a week in virtual reality, the league announced Thursday. It has partnered with NextVR to broadcast at least one League Pass game a week in VR — the NBA is the first major professional league to do it (although NextVR did already do the U.S. Open tennis tournament, The Masters, and other big events).

If you have an NBA League Pass and a Samsung Gear VR headset (or compatible smartphone) you can pay to watch the games — but the first one is free. On Oct. 27 the Spurs visiting the Sacramento Kings fans can watch Kawhi Leonard shut down Ben McLemore in virtual reality for free.

From the NBA’s press release:

Fans with a Samsung Gear VR headset and a compatible Samsung smartphone can experience the free preview by accessing the NBA Channel within the NextVR app. Later this season, the offering will be expanded to support additional VR headset options.

The weekly games will be available as part of the NBA LEAGUE PASS full season package. Whether purchased through a third party distributor or directly through the NBA, fans will be able to authenticate their accounts by inputting their NBA LEAGUE PASS login credentials (obtained at or the NBA App) within NextVR’s app.

The VR broadcasts will be fully produced with dedicated announcers, multiple unmanned camera angles and optimized graphics. Game breaks will be filled with in-venue entertainment, behind-the-scenes footage from the arena and VR-specific commentary.

Sounds promising.

I’m not about to speculate on the popularity of this, but smart move by the NBA to get out in front of this and try it. You have to love that the NBA is adventurous and will push the market, the NFL probably won’t try this until 2036.