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Spurs vs. Grizzlies 2017: Schedule, scores, and predictions for NBA playoffs

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San Antonio closed out the series in 6 games.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

In a traditionally hard-fought showdown between two Western Conference foes, the No. 2 San Antonio Spurs and seventh-seeded Memphis Grizzlies go head-to-head in a lopsided first-round playoff matchup.

The Spurs’ sustained excellence now has a new face. San Antonio has passed the torch from the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili down to the league’s best two-way player in Kawhi Leonard. He and LaMarcus Aldridge aim to challenge the Golden State Warriors as conference champions.

The Grizzlies feature a senescent but still formidable big man combo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, but Memphis’ show is run by the steady hand of Mike Conley. The fourth member of that old gang, Tony Allen, will miss the series with a calf injury.

Memphis has been reliant on production from 40-year-old Vince Carter, whose eight points per game are the most he’s averaged since the 2013-14 season. They have also been the beneficiary of two young, versatile defensive forward in JaMychal Green and James Ennis, who have helped usher in an era of semi-small ball in Memphis.

Memphis, though, has yet to see production from Chandler Parsons, who missed 48 games after signing a $94 million deal with the team over the summer and won’t play in this series. In the games he played, he averaged 6.2 points on 27 percent three-point shooting.

The talent disparity between the Spurs and Grizzlies is palpable. Leonard is a candidate for the league’s Most Valuable Player of the Year award. Aldridge is only two seasons removed from his glory days in Portland. They’ve got an aging but skilled Pau Gasol manning the middle, and the pieces around San Antonio’s core is functional enough to support their star power.

The Spurs also have the oracle of head coaches in Gregg Popovich, who’s won five championships since 1999. Aside from the difference in talent on the floor, it’s his wealth of experience that poses the biggest obstacle for the Grizzlies.

Key Matchup: Kawhi Leonard vs. (Insert Grizzlies faithful)

Memphis is a team that prides itself on toughness and effort on the defensive end. That’s all sweet and nice, but Kawhi Leonard doesn’t care about your pride. He doesn’t care about your effort or your experience.

There’s only one question: Can you stop him? The answer from one down to 15 on the Memphis roster is a resounding no, especially with Allen injured.

The Grizzlies are going to throw different looks at Leonard in the series. Carter is 40 years old, and as amazing as he was in his prime, Leonard is exponentially better. Memphis’ best defender is out indefinitely with a calf injury. Green and Ennis are physical, tough-nosed defenders, but Leonard has too much talent

If Memphis can’t get a handle on Leonard, an extraordinarily tough feat in spite of the team’s defensive deftness, the series will be over quicker than it started.

Series Schedule

Game 1: Spurs 111, Grizzlies 82 (recap)

Game 2: Spurs 96, Grizzlies 82 (recap)

Game 3: Grizzlies 105, Spurs 94 (recap)

Game 4: Grizzlies 110, Spurs 108, OT (recap)

Game 5: Spurs 116, Grizzlies 103 (recap)

Game 6: Spurs 103, Grizzlies 96 (recap)

Predictions

SB Nation’s Spurs vs. Grizzlies predictions

STAFFER WINNING TEAM GAMES SERIES MVP
STAFFER WINNING TEAM GAMES SERIES MVP
Paul Flannery Spurs 4 Patty Mills
Mike Prada Spurs 6 LaMarcus Aldridge
Tom Ziller Spurs 4 LaMarcus Aldridge
Whitney Medworth Spurs 5 Kawhi Leonard
Kristian Winfield Spurs 5 Kawhi Leonard
Tim Cato Spurs 6 Kawhi Leonard
Zito Madu Spurs 5 Kawhi Leonard
Pounding the Rock Spurs 5 Kawhi Leonard
Grizzly Bear Blues Spurs 6 Kawhi Leonard