The San Antonio Spurs faced a recognizable foe in their season opener. The Memphis Grizzlies, the team the Spurs swept in the Western Conference Finals last season, came to San Antonio. Both teams remain largely unchanged from last year, and so did the final result, a Spurs 101-94 victory.
Both teams started off a bit rusty, shooting poor percentages and making bad turnovers. At the end of the first quarter, the Grizzlies had a 20-18 lead. The Spurs, led by their reserves, immediately responded and dominated the second quarter, 30-7 to take a 48-27 halftime lead.
The Grizzlies slightly outplayed the Spurs in the third, and made a game of it in the fourth, cutting the Spurs lead to five at one point. But the Spurs responded, as they always seem to do, with an 11-2 run led by Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard to put the game away. That extended the lead to double digits and essentially ended the game.
The biggest takeaway from today’s game is that this Spurs team is really, really deep. Their leading scorers, Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw, only scored 14 points each. Four other players scored in double figures. In total, they got 53 points from their bench. New additions Marco Belinelli and Jeff Ayres got minutes and made impacts, and look to be nice additions to the team that will only increase their depth. The Spurs spread the ball around well, combining for 26 assists on 40 made shots. They shot 52 percent from the floor and 55 percent from three in what was a relatively solid performance all-around. The Spurs accomplished all of this, while arguably their best player, Tim Duncan, only played sparingly. Duncan played 16 minutes in the first half and one in the second half before exiting with a minor chest injury.
All in all it was a well-rounded performance from a team we have come to expect nothing less from. We all the Spurs don’t care much about this regular season. Their real season starts come April. If they are able to get consistent bench production as they did tonight and keep their stars fresh, they will be well set-up and ready to redeem themselves come playoff time.