It’s that time of year again. Playoff basketball is back! There are so many interesting match-ups to start off.

The Memphis Grizzlies-San Antonio Spurs first round match-up is one that has a rich history dating back to the 2011 playoffs when the eighth seed Grizzlies knocked off the top-seeded Spurs in six games.

The Spurs have gotten their revenge since then — sweeping the Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals in 2013, and in the first-round of last years playoffs. This upcoming first-round match-up should be filled with some more excitement to say the least.

The Grizzlies have struggled post All-Star break, winning only seven out of twenty-one games in March and April. If Memphis wants to have any chance of winning this series, they must get back to what makes them so great — their toughness on the defensive end. Memphis was 20th in defensive rating post All-Star break after being ranked fourth before the break. That simply isn’t good enough. They must come together as a team and lock back in defensively.

The San Antonio Spurs lost the legend Tim Duncan this year and have not missed a beat. They notched their third 60+ win season in the last four years, and are poised to make another deep playoff run. Kawhi Leonard has been nothing short of spectacular this season, averaging 25.5 points and almost 6 rebounds per game. He has been the engine that makes this team go. He will be critical in this series for the Spurs to advance.

Memphis and San Antonio split the season series 2-2, with both teams winning all of their games at home. Kawhi Leonard was missing for one of the wins for Memphis though.

Look for this series to have a very slow pace of play. Among all of the first round match-ups, this one had the slowest pace of play in the regular season. This bodes well for Memphis though — they like to have the game ugly, and slow. Memphis had the third slowest pace of play in the NBA at 94.7.

Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph must win out against the Spurs big-men if they want to compete in this series. It will not be easy, but look for for them to have huge games. The injury to Tony Allen right before the playoffs was huge for what Memphis wanted to do defensively. He was the only wing that had a fighters chance at guarding Kawhi Leonard. Look for Leonard to dominate offensively. That loss put a huge dent in the Grizzlies’ chances of being competitive in this series. The Grizzlies will fight hard as always, but depth and talent will win out in this series.

Prediction: Spurs in 5

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