Pregame: Spurs, Grizzlies happy with opening day matchup

Mike ConleyYou would think after playing a grueling six-game series against each other, the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies would have seen enough of each other.

As Richard Jefferson put it during last season’s playoff series, after a while, you get tired of seeing the same faces.

But both teams look forward to tipping off in less than an hour.

The Spurs lost in the first round after one of their most successful seasons in franchise history, but today, the slate gets wiped clean.

“The Spurs are a team we have history with last season and they’re one of the best teams in the league so there’s no better way to open up the season than to play one of the best teams,” Conley said.

After surprising many by beating a first seed and having a competitive series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Conley says this season, the stakes are higher.

“I think this year we have a little more expectations from the fans, the media,” Conley said. “We set the bar a little bit higher this season and we gotta get further than we did last season.”

But regardless of their success last season, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins would prefer that his team not believe in their own hype from last season.

“Don’t get diluted into believing all of the hype from last year,” Hollins said.

As for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, he says his team is ready for the season to start after the NBA lockout postponed the start of the season.

 

“It’s the first game of the season, everybody’s excited,” Popovich said. “We’re ready to go.”

The Spurs have one new player to game plan for that they didn’t have to worry about in the playoffs, Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay.

“It feels great (to have him back). He was the missing piece for us last year,” Conley said. “He’s a huge part of our team and for us not to have him really hurt us and now that we’ve got him back is a comforting feeling.”

Among other players, the Spurs will look to second-year guard James Anderson to hold off Gay,

“I think I have a jumpstart on everything. I had a good training camp so I’m ready for the year to start,” Anderson said. “It’s pretty much the same as last year. I want to come in and help the team on both ends, especially the defensive end. They are a young and talented team and it’s going to be a good game.”

“He’s a good player, he’s an all-star caliber player,” Popovich said of Gay. “He’ll get a lot of attention.”

Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. CST. Look for postgame information later tonight and tomorrow on ProjectSpurs.com

Paul Garcia contributed to this post. 

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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