Big teams, superstars stand in way of Spurs 5th title

The San Antonio Spurs begin their drive for five (I’m pretty sure that tag line was used once or twice previewjazzsince 2007) Sunday at Noon against the Utah Jazz.  Suddenly expectations are high as even the guys from ESPN are picking them to come out of the West.  They’re healthy and lately they’ve been running everyone out of the gym.  Still, they’re by no means a perfect team.  They did let a guy grab 30 rebounds on them by himself.  There’s three teams the Spurs need to worry about, and yes, you can guess two of them and the third won’t be incredibly surprising.

The Los Angeles Lakers: They have Kobe Bryant.  They have Pau Gasol.  They have Andrew Bynum (and to a much lesser degree they have Ramon Sessions).  Nobody else on their team is worth mentioning.  Still, they have Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.  They should worry any team because any of those three players has the ability to carry a team to a victory on a given night.  Playing bigger teams isn’t as big an issue as it used to be, but two seven foot All-Stars should worry any team.  And if having to face Kobe Bryant doesn’t make you a little bit nervous you are lost as a basketball fan.  The really good news is the Lakers and Spurs wouldn’t meet up until the Western Conference Finals and the Lakers will likely have to go through Oklahoma City to get there and OKC is a terrible match up for the Lakers.

The Memphis Grizzlies: “The Ghost of Playoff’s Past.”  The reason it took about 63 games out of a 66 game season for a lot of people to start buying in to the Spurs.  The Grizzlies have size and they play some really good defense.  Marc Gasol has been fantastic this season, Rudy Gay is healthy and has also been playing well and Zach Randolph is getting healthy.  Tony Allen and Mike Conley, Jr. are both terrors on defense.  These are all the pluses that make Memphis scary.  Still, this isn’t the same team they were last year. 

They don’t have a back up point guard, they can’t shoot and Marresse Speights isn’t as good as Darrell Arthur was last season.  Part of what made Memphis so good last year was guys like Arthur, Shane Battier and Greivis Vasquez would come in, hit big shots and play fantastic defense.  None of those three guys play for the Grizz anymore.  Also, the Spurs are better suited for a team like Memphis.  They have athletes, they have guys like Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Stephen Jackson, which means Gary Neal never has to play small forward again, ever.  It would be great if the Los Angeles Clippers beat Memphis, but this Spurs team is equipped to beat this Memphis team.

The Miami Heat:  Crap on Miami all you want, but when you’re playing a team that has the best player in the world, another top five player and another top 20 player, you should absolutely worry about them.  This defense isn’t suited to suffocate either Wade or James and if they do then they’ve got the other one to contend with.  There’s also a decent chance Bosh will be wide open for a lot of 15 foot jumpers.  Say what you want about Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, they’re not staying in front of James and Wade. Miami is also one of the best defensive teams in the league.  Still, their one weakness on defense is they’re not great at running teams off the three point line.  I’m not saying the Spurs wouldn’t beat the Heat, they seem to built in a similar way to last year’s Mavs team, but I’d rather them see any team in the East other than Miami.

The Thunder need to win a season series against the Spurs before I become really worried about them and there are not other teams the Spurs could play that present a daunting task for them.  I’d love to see what Coach Gregg Popovich comes up with for Derrick Rose in a seven game series.  

What about you Spurs fans?  Who don’t you want the Spurs to face?  Which match up do you most want to see?