Friday night the Memphis Grizzlies used a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to help them push their series with the Los Angeles Clippers to a Game Seven in Memphis. While the San Antonio Spurs still don’t know who their opponent will be, but they do have a time and date for at least the first two games.
The Spurs announced Game One will be Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. and Game Two will be Thursday also at 8:30 p.m. That’s the normal part, but there’s also speculation that Games Three and Four will most likely be a back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday. Under normal circumstances I would say this is doing a disservice to the Spurs, but when you combine the massive amounts of rest have had, their depth and the injury and lineup issues of either team they will face gives them a massive advantage for any potential back-to-backs in the second round.
By the time Game One starts, the Spurs will have had seven days off in between games. There’s obviously a rust concern but that’s something a team can push through in a half. Assuming the Spurs can avoid or get through any rust issues, they have a good chance to win Games One and Two. This isn’t unusual in a playoff series, but because the Clippers and Grizzlies have battled through a full seven game series, the Spurs’ chances of stealing one or both of Games Three and Four have increased.
Let’s assume the Grizzlies finish this impressive comeback, then they’ll go straight from celebrating said comeback to having to play in San Antonio. They’ll lack rest and be in danger of an emotional let down. Game Two will start less than 48 hours after Game One Ends. The same for Game Three and then Game Four starts less than 24 hours after Game Three ends. That’s a lot of tread for in very little time for a team that just played a seven game series. Four games in six nights AFTER you played a seven game series would be tough for any team. It will even tougher on Zach Randolph, who isn’t 100% back from knee surgery, and tougher for Tony Allen who is nursing a knee injury of his own. You when injuries bother you the most? When you don’t have a ton of time to take care of them. That means the Spurs have an even better chance of taking Game Four in particular, even if it is in the “Grindhouse.”
Playing the Clippers looked like a bit of better match up for the Spurs than the Grizzlies before the playoffs even started. It looks even better now. Both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are dealing with injuries that you wouldn’t call severe, but you’d say they’re more than nagging. Both guys certainly seemed limited during Game Six, and playing five times in the next week certainly won’t help them heal any faster, especially when the last of those five games come in the form of a back-to-back. Both guys are still talented enough to be effective, but how effective. And who on that Clipper team steps up?
The Spurs are in a good place right now. They’re rested, they’re hungry and they’re playing great basketball right now. Hopefully they’re able to knock any rust off early on Tuesday night. The Clippers could’ve closed out Friday night and avoided any of this compacted schedule nonsense, but they let one slip away and now the NBA has inadvertently done the Spurs a favor by having them play a lot of games in a little bit of time.