This season has been odd for the San Antonio Spurs. One year ago, they where limping into the playoffs finished as the seventh seed. They upset the Dallas Mavericks before being swept by the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals.
This year, with little lineup changes, the Spurs came out of the gates blazing finishing the regular season with 61-21 record as the number one seed in the Western Conference.
It’s not a stretch to say they dominated the regular season for quite a while. But like every team, the Spurs had some concerns. They relied on offense for the most part of the season, and never played the kind of defense they once had.
The same defense that won them four NBA championships.
As the post season approaches, hopes were high. Having home court advantage in the entire West would benefit the Spurs. The drive for a fifth title is alive!
However, just before the playoffs started, Manu Ginobili was injured on their final regular season game. It wasn’t that serious but he was hurt.
Looking ahead in the series against a young but talented Grizzlies squad, the Spurs opted to rest Manu in Game 1, choosing caution over recklessness.
Manu disagreed but had no choice.
Game 1 was decided on three-pointer by Shane Battier, Memphis won that game 101-98. That was the first post season win by the Grizzlies and it definitely game them a lot of confidence and a morale booster.
Would Manu made a difference in that first game?
They did comeback in Game 2 behind Ginobili’s inspired play to tie the series at 1-1, but didn’t follow through. They suppose to put the pressure back at the Grizzlies but didn’t.
Losing Game 3 on Zach Randolph three-point shot clearly hurt them.
Then, instead of stealing one from Memphis before going back to San Antonio, the Spurs were blown out in Game 4. It was a sad game, the Spurs looked so helpless and at that point, a lot of people think they are done.
I never gave up. Down 1-3, I still believed the Spurs can make it.
Game 5 happened. The Spurs’ gave a glimmer of hope. Gary Neal played hero and the Spurs were able to extend the series and force another game in Memphis.
They have another chance to tie the series and bring it back to San Antonio.
As Game 6 started, perhaps energized by the home crowd, the Grizzlies jumped out on the Spurs early coming out strong on a 14-2 blast to start the opening period. From there, the Spurs played catchup .
Nonetheless, San Antonio did not go down without a fight. They kept it close trailing 43-46 at the half and only down 66-70 after three quarters.
After leading 2-0 in the opening tip, the Spurs took the lead once again at 80-79 on a 15-footer by Antonio McDyess with 4:41 left in the game.
However, the Grizzlies were never rattled, they went on to a 10-2 run behind Randolph who scored 17 of his 31 points in the final quarter.
With 1:55 left in the game, the Grizzlies led 89-82.
Maybe the Spurs still have another run in them? Not this time.
Some untimely turnovers killed them. Tony Parker was responsible for two straight miscues down the stretch, Tim Duncan looked tired and worn-out.
The Spurs were not able to recover, they lost the game and the series against the Memphis Grizzlies 4-2.
Their season is over.
It was a disappointing way to end on what was perceived to be great season.
Now, the Spurs will have another long off-season ahead of them.
They will have enough time to rest their aching bodies, lick their wounds and try to come back next season with something to prove.