Friday's NBA opening-weekend games feature the two teams that battled it out in the 2012-13 Western Conference Finals: the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies.
With vastly contrasting styles of play, the Spurs-Grizzlies game is something to look out for. The Spurs put a premium on offense, centered on Tony Parker, one of the best point guards in the world; swingman Manu Ginobili; and future Hall of Fame big man Tim Duncan. They are also backed up by point guards Cory Joseph and Patrick Mills, new acquisition Josh Howard, Kawhi Leonard, and Tiago Splitter.
One distinguishing factor for coach Gregg Popovich's team is the presence of so many international players in his roster. There are three Frenchmen, two Australians (Aron Baynes and Patrick Mills), one Brazilian, one Argentinian, one Italian and one Canadian in the lineup, and Popovich espouses a style of play that is heavily influenced by the international game that involves a lot of passing and fluid motion.
For the Memphis Grizzlies, center Marc Gasol will play with an axe to grind. Parker's France team defeated Gasol's Spain national team in the semifinals of FIBA Eurobasket 2013, ousting the defending champs. The Grizzlies themselves employ a grind-it-out, bruising game, allowing an average of only 88.7 points in 2012-13. While the Grizzlies are not known for having big scorers, the offense is distributed evenly, with five players top scoring for the team after Rudy Gay was traded in January.
It appears that point guard Mike Conley has been given the keys to the offense, having scored 20 points or more 11 times since the 2013 All-Star Break. Jerryd Bayless is also a superstar scorer in waiting and should have a breakout season in 2013-14.
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