Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs (-4.5, 182.5)
The San Antonio Spurs haven’t been part of the NBA Finals since 2007 when they swept the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Memphis Grizzlies have never played for the title and are in the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. The two squads begin their quest for a spot in the finals in Sunday’s opening contest in San Antonio. Memphis posted a memorable 4-2 first-round series win over the Spurs in the 2011 postseason.
The fifth-seeded Grizzlies beat the Los Angeles Clippers in six games and the Oklahoma City Thunder in five to reach the conference finals. Memphis let a lead get away to fall to Oklahoma City in the opener before rolling off four straight wins. Second-seeded San Antonio swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round and defeated the Golden State Warriors in six games in the conference semifinals. The Spurs lost to the Thunder in last season’s Western Conference finals. San Antonio and Memphis split four regular-season meetings this season with the home team winning each time.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES: Power forward Zach Randolph had four double-doubles in the five-game series with the Thunder and is averaging 19.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in the postseason. Randolph played especially well over the final two games with Oklahoma City, averaging 25.5 points and 13 rebounds. Center Marc Gasol is averaging 18.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in the postseason and had four 20-point outings against the Thunder. Point guard Mike Conley rounds out a solid trio with playoff averages of 17.6 points and 7.6 assists. Conley has stepped up as an end-of-game shot-taker since Memphis dealt Rudy Gay to Toronto. “It has helped me out a lot, just the responsibility in itself has been big for me,” Conley said. “I’ve just tried to use this opportunity to get better and make my teammates better.”
ABOUT THE SPURS: Point guard Tony Parker still hasn’t forgotten last season’s disappointing appearance in the Western Conference finals and claims to be drawing motivation from it. “We were disappointed last year being up 2-0, having home court and not being able to go to the finals,” Parker said. “It gives us a lot of fuel for this year.” Parker has scored 20 or more points in seven of 10 postseason games this season and is averaging 22.4 points. He was a woeful 3-for-16 in the finale against Golden State but scored 10 of his 13 points over the final 3:35. Parker averaged 25.5 points against the Grizzlies in the regular season. Power forward Tim Duncan is averaging 18.7 points and 9.2 rebounds in the postseason with five double-doubles.
* Grizzlies are 5-0 ATS in their last five road games.
* Spurs are 0-4 ATS in their last four Conference Finals games.
* Under is 4-1 in Spurs’ last five overall.
1. The Spurs are 33-7 – including 4-1 in the postseason – when hosting the Grizzlies.
2. Duncan’s 143 postseason double-doubles ties with Wilt Chamberlain for second all-time and he has scored in double digits in 194 of his 200 playoff contests.
3. Grizzlies G Tony Allen has 25 steals in the postseason, including 12 over the last four games.