The #2 seeded San Antonio Spurs won their fourth and final game of the series against the #7 seeded Memphis Grizzlies 116-95. Kawhi Leonard lead the Spurs with 21 points and seven rebounds. The Spurs advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs where they will play either the #3 seeded Thunder or the #6 seeded Mavericks.
The San Antonio Spurs know they didn’t face a fair fight in the first-round of the playoffs, so they took what they could in sweeping an injury-depleted opponent.
A physical test they hope prepared them for the Western Conference semifinals.
The Spurs finished off their ninth postseason sweep in franchise history Sunday by routing the Memphis Grizzlies 116-95. Now they await either Oklahoma City or Dallas, which will offer a much tougher series than the Grizzlies, who reached the playoffs despite using an NBA-record 28 players this season.
“They fought very hard,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said of the Grizzlies. “Obviously, they had a lot of injuries, so it was not the same. I’ve had some great battles against the Grizzlies over the years in the playoffs. You just have to give a lot of credit because they tried, and it was just too hard and too many injuries.”
This was the third time the Spurs swept Memphis, including the 2004 first round and the 2013 Western Conference finals.
“That physicality will help us I think in the next round,” Popovich said.
Here are some things to know while the Spurs wait for their next opponent:
RESTED SPURS: With the Grizzlies so depleted by injuries, Popovich was able to take it easy on his starters. Even with Kawhi Leonard playing more than 42 minutes in Game 3, the Spurs starters still averaged fewer than 25 minutes played per game during this series. Tim Duncan, who turns 40 on Monday, played just 13:32 in Game 3 and 19 minutes in Game 4. In wrapping up the series, six reserves played at least 13 minutes, and Andre Miller was the only Spur who played who didn’t score Sunday.
HITTING THE BOARDS: LaMarcus Aldridge finished the series by posting a double-double in each of the two victories in Memphis. He scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Game 3 and was only a point off matching those numbers Sunday. He helped the Spurs dominate Memphis in the paint, where they outrebounded the Grizzlies 41-36. Banging up against Randolph should only sharpen Aldridge for the semifinals.
The series win also provided a nice bit of redemption for Aldridge, who was with Portland last season when Memphis ousted the Trail Blazers 4-1 in the first round. Aldridge said he wasn’t thinking of that right now. “Anybody that knows me knows that I don’t like to look back on things until the end of the season,” Aldridge said. “But I’m in the moment, and I’m enjoying the ride.”
KAWHI LEADING THE WAY: Kawhi Leonard, the two-time defensive player of the year, led the Spurs in scoring three of the four games. He also tied his postseason career-high with 32 points in Game 3. He did lead them in minutes played each game.
STAYING SHARP: The Spurs didn’t play with the precision they did most of the season in going 67-15. Yet they still finished this series shooting 50 percent in Game 4. Parker wasn’t sure how many practices Popovich will schedule before the next series starts. After a physical series with Memphis, Manu Ginobili is hoping for some rest first.
“I think we’re due a couple days off, and then we’ll have a couple good practices to get the rhythm back,” Ginobili said. “I think it’s very important. We need it.”
SWEEPING BY PHIL: Popovich now has nine postseason sweeps in best-of-seven series, the most all-time. He broke a tie with Phil Jackson in that category.