The 2011 NBA Playoffs begin on Saturday, with eight first-round series all playing their first game over the weekend. Who do we think will move on? Will there be any upsets? Which series will end quickly, and which will go the distance? SB Nation's trio of NBA writers -- Tom Ziller, Mike Prada and Andrew Sharp -- will be making their picks for each pick in this StoryStream. We move next to the Spurs vs. Grizzlies series.
San Antonio in five. I believe the eulogies for the Spurs are seriously premature, and I think San Antonio has too much depth to submit. Hill and Gary Neal, in particular, could shred the Grizzlies' backcourt reserves, and I don't trust Conley and Allen to have multiple big offensive games. Randolph might average 30-20, but the Spurs have much more overall talent.
I'm not saying Memphis will win, but if the first round was still five games like it was '94, they'd have a 50-50 shot against this Spurs team. Alas, we've moved to seven, and the chances that Popovich gets outcoached over a two week span are about the same as the chances that a team built around Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo, and Mike Conley can possibly keep it together to string together four wins under pressure.
On the bright side, we get to watch a team with flawless perimeter defense with an offense that revolves around a dominant low post player and a bunch of quality role players. The Memphis Grizzlies are just like all the best Spurs teams from the past decade, but f**king insane and liable to self-destruct at any moment. If you're looking for the most surreal matchup of the playoffs, you won't do better than Griz-Spurs. The Pick: Spurs in 6.
If you believe the Grizzlies' tanking to get the eight spot will revive the sleeping giant, then you think the Spurs will roll. Me? I see the last two Grizzlies wins over San Antonio as major causes for concern, and that's even before accounting for however serious Manu Ginobili's elbow injury may be. Ginobili is going to be hassled by Tony Allen all series, and Memphis' pick and roll defense will corral Tony Parker fairly well. On the other end, Tim Duncan will have his issues handling Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol all by himself. I'm only taking the Spurs to win because I believe in their experience, whereas Memphis is liable to self-destruct. But I don't feel that confident about it. Spurs in 7.