Spurs get look at first of many potential first round matchups

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If the playoffs started today, the San Antonio Spurs would be the number one seed in the Western Conference and face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. Tonight, those two teams meet in the Alamo City, and while the Spurs are likely to hold on to the number one seed for the next nine days, who they face in the first round remains up in the air.

While the Spurs have a comfy 3 1/2 game lead over the Thunder atop the West, the bottom of the playoff bracket is in complete flux. Memphis is currently tied with the Phoenix Suns for eighth place and both are just a half game behind Dallas for seventh. Memphis holds the tie-breaker over Phoenix.

If you’re the Spurs, is there a team you’d rather face of the three teams in 7th-9th? Starting tonight, the Spurs will face each of those three teams in the next five days. Let’s take a look at how they’ve faired against each team so far this season.

The Dallas Mavericks: 12/26, W 116-107; 1/8, W 112-90; 3/2, W 112-106.
The theme here is that the Mavs can’t stop the Spurs. Dallas has by far the worst defense of the three teams the Spurs could face. According to ESPN.com, they’re currently ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency. You don’t ever feel great about taking on Dirk Nowitzki in a playoff series, but a terrible defense like Dallas would be music to the Spurs’ ears. Plus, who doesn’t want one more Duncan-Dirk series?

The Memphis Grizzlies: 10/30, W 101-94; 11/22, W 102-86; 1/7, W 110-108 (OT)
I would think any lingering nervousness from the 2011 playoffs would’ve been erased by last year’s Western Conference Finals sweep. Still, the Memphis Grizzlies are a curious case. They’re still a top-10 defense, have improved their 3-point shooting and still have the big man duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The overtime game aside (which was a 15 point game with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter), San Antonio hasn’t had a ton of problems with the Grizzlies this year, though Marc Gasol played 10 minutes in one of those games and didn’t play in the OT game. With both teams healthy and rested, we’ll get a better idea of how to feel about this potential first round match up after tonight.

The Phoenix Suns: 11/6, W 99-96; 12/18, W 108-101; 2/12, L 106-85
The most curious case. On one hand, this is one of two teams to beat the Spurs post All-Star break. But, neither Kawhi Leonard or Tony Parker played in that game. Still, the Suns have played the Spurs the toughest of these three teams. Longtime Spurs foil Goran Dragic is having a career year and everyone else on the roster seems to exceeding pre-season expectations. That’s a credit to first year head coach Jeff Hornacek, who seems to know exactly how to use each man in his rotation. But isn’t this exactly the kind of team the Spurs would want to face? Young team, young coach that plays a fast pace? Is a team with that little postseason experience that big of a concern for the Spurs?

Again, the potential playoff previews start tonight. Is there a team you’d prefer the Spurs face?

Spurs and Grizzlies tip-off tonight from the AT&T Center at 6 p.m. Anyone looking for tickets should visit our friends at TiqIQ.

  • Dapimp Ofdayear

    Suns first. Poor paint scoring and defense from its bigs. Mavs second. Dirk is always scary in the playoffs. Grizzlies last. The grind brothers can make life miserable for Tiago and Tim, and Conley is a sneaky good PG.

  • I need more cowbell

    Mavs or Grizzlies. The Spurs can easily outscore both of those teams. The Suns look scary. Their a young team with no pressure to perform and go balls out on the court.

  • Graham

    Dallas 1st – Dirk can lead the team to one, maybe two wins, but the gaping disparity between our two teams on Defense is pretty much impossible for them to overcome, I feel.

    Memphis 2nd – For the same reasons people think OKC ‘owns’ us. We learned how to play them and can neutralize them. It will likely be physical, but as much as they’ve improved, so have we.

    Phoenix 3rd – Teams with nothing to lose scare me. While I still think we win the series handily, the risk of playing a high variance team like the Suns could be troublesome. Something tells me if they DO get into the playoffs, they will have a LOT of momentum going and that can potentially be a problem.

    Not that I see any of these series’ going past 6, but that’s the feelings I have.