The Memphis Grizzlies quite nearly left Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs looking bleak. It took a Shane Battier go-ahead dagger and a Richard Jefferson brick to save the Grizzlies from a heartrending collapse in San Antonio, where the Spurs lacked Manu Ginobili, perhaps their best player. Memphis struggled from the line late and let Matt Bonner spring free from Zach Randolph to hit some major threes. But fortune smiled on the Grizz, and an upset took a step toward reality.
Step No. 2 could come Wednesday, or never. The teams reconvene in S.A. for Game 2 on Wednesday (8:30 p.m., NBA TV), with Manu's status still uncertain. Randolph was an offensive and rebounding monster in Game 1, and Marc Gasol missed exactly one shot as the duo beat up Tim Duncan and the poor soul that happened to be next to him at any given point (a mix of Antonio McDyess, DeJuan Blair and Bonner, with the latter pair earning the majority of the punishment). Duncan was able to get plenty back on the other end, especially early. But the game's great imbalance was right here, where the Spurs so often win.
Unless the Spurs adjust, send help and live with Mike Conley, Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo taking shots more open than usual, it could happen again; remember that Manu can't stop Z-Bo and Marc, either. He can fill the net, though, and keep Memphis on its collective heels. Keep in mind, again, that the Memphis Grizzlies quite nearly left Game 1 against San Antonio looking bleak; this is a contested series that the Spurs expect to win.