The Memphis Grizzlies are a team of veterans, but they've never been here before. Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince have won NBA titles, Marc Gasol has played for Olympic gold medals, and Mike Conley led his Buckeyes to an NCAA title game in his only college season. But together, for this group, Tuesday stands as a unique hurdle.
Trailing 1-0 to the experienced, cold-blooded San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, the Grizzlies need to come together like never before. For players who have seen so much success in the past, Game 2 awaits with one question looming to be answered above all else. Are these Grizzlies for real?
The best players on this Spurs team have been to the NBA Finals on three occasions, winning each time. The Grizzlies are the furthest they've ever been in the postseason, a team that's finally found the right combination behind a group of players that's had many successes across basketball's vast landscape.
But a history of winning stands in Memphis' way, and following a 105-83 beatdown in the first game of the series, their season comes to a breaking point Tuesday.
In order for one group of veterans to unseat another, it'll take a much better performance than Memphis gave the first time around. Entering Game 2, a few questions loom over this series and which team will ultimately represent the West in this year's Finals. Let's take a few minutes to break them down.
1. What's up with Zach Randolph?
The Grizzlies always win behind a true team effort, but that almost always demands a quality performance from power forward Zach Randolph. A guy that can score on practically anyone with his loopy array of post moves, he was effectively shut down in Game 1 by the Spurs' big guys. Z-Bo isn't the athlete he once was, but Memphis can't afford for him to repeat the two-point, seven-rebound effort he gave in the opening game of the series.
2. Can Spurs keep shooting like this?
More than anything, San Antonio shot its way to victory in Game 1. With quality spacing and execution leading to numerous open shots, the Spurs just kept filling the basket to a degree Memphis couldn't match. The Grizzlies are a team built on defense, and while Quincy Pondexter knocked down five treys in the opening game, they simply can't keep up with a red-hot San Antonio. Should the Spurs stay this scorching for the majority of the series, it will be difficult for Memphis to keep up.
3. Will Memphis capitalize in the paint?
Even as the Spurs rained threes and Randolph struggled, the Grizzlies still managed to finish the game with a 35-33 advantage on the boards. Other than Tim Duncan, who grabbed 10 rebounds, nobody on the team grabbed more than five missed shots. San Antonio's other big men -- Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair -- combined for just five rebounds in 60 minutes of playing time. If the shots aren't falling and Memphis continued to dominate the boards, the Spurs won't glide through this series.
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Odds: Spurs favored by 5.5 points
More from SB Nation: