How They Were Eliminated: Manu Ginobili was out for Game 1 and the Grizzlies got the matchup they wanted. The Grizzlies' defense caused the Spurs all kinds of problems. The Spurs led the league in 3-point shooting during the regular season at 40-percent but managed just 30-percent against Memphis. The Grizzlies also got great post play from Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to limit Tim Duncan's effectiveness. Grizzlies became the second 8th seed to win a first round game in a 7-game series.
Bright Spot: The end result will be tough for Spurs' fans but the overall picture shows an amazing accomplishment. The Spurs went from being the 7th seed last season to finishing with the best record in the West this season. They completely changed their style of play and it worked for 82 games.
Biggest Question Marks: The big, franchise-changing question the Spurs have to ask is - was this a fluke? Was this loss a combination of Ginobili's injury, going cold from outside and running into a possessed Zach Randolph. Or was this a sign of things to come. The answer to that question will determine whether the Spurs give it another run (they can have nearly the same exact roster next season) or if they look to make some trades and begin a new era. This big question might also determine Tim Duncan's status. He has a player option for one more year but could also sign a longer-term deal at less money to free up some cap space.
The Spurs seemed crazy to re-sign Richard Jefferson after he seemed
to not fit in last season. But they worked with him and he shot a
career-high 44-percent from 3-point range. Then he disappeared in the
playoffs including being held scoreless and playing just 10 minutes
after getting benched in the second half of the final game. Which Jefferson will they see next season?
Free Agent Situation: Unrestricted - Tim Duncan (player option), Steve Novak, Chris Quinn
Free Agent Dreams: They don't have too many options given
their current situation. They would probably need to trade Ginobili or
Tony Parker to make any move of significance. Antonio McDyess plans on
retiring and that leaves them thin at the center spot. They still have
DeJuan Blair but unless they have faith in Tiago Splitter (still one of
the coolest names in the NBA) they will need to add depth at that spot.
They could look to bring in a veteran like Jason Collins.
SUMMARY: The Spurs completely changed their philosophy this
season. They went from an inside-out team that focused on defense to a
perimeter shooting team with an average defense. The change worked in
the regular season but as Magic fans can attest - you live by the 3, you
die by the 3. Tim Duncan was also outplayed by Marc Gasol - a sentence
no one would've ever thought would be uttered just a couple years ago.
The regular season success can't be overlooked but as one of the best
franchises in recent memory, their success is based on the postseason
and they came up well short of their goal to win another championship.