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Whom Do the San Antonio Spurs Want to Face in the Second Round?

With a commanding 3-0 lead over the Utah Jazz in the opening round the Spurs might be looking forward.
With a commanding 3-0 lead over the Utah Jazz in the opening round the Spurs might be looking forward.Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Ben ShapiroAnalyst IIIMay 7, 2012

There are certain questions that we all know the media won't ever get a straight answer to. 

For instance, with the Spurs now up 3-0 on the Utah Jazz, it's not outrageous to start thinking about who San Antonio will face in the next round. If one was to ask Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich or any of the players who they'd like to face in the second round, the Los Angeles Clippers or the Memphis Grizzlies, you'd get an effusive non-commital answer.

Basically, unless you're Rex Ryan and the New York Jets, the majority of professional sports franchises tend to pay attention to that word " professional" and not give their opponents too much added incentive to come out with guns blazing in their eventual head-to-head match-ups.

The San Antonio Spurs are the top seed in the Western Conference. Which team (Clippers or Grizzlies) would they prefer to face if they actually would provide a candid answer? 

The Clippers certainly would be a tough match-up for the Spurs. Los Angeles has arguably the league's best point guard in Chris Paul. Is he better than the Spurs' Tony Parker? By a narrow margin, he might be.

Los Angeles also has one of the league's most exciting players in Blake Griffin. The high-flying power forward is prone to throwing down thunderous dunks and he can rebound a bit as well. His 10.9 per game placed him sixth in the NBA during the regular season.

High flying Blake Griffin could face serious problems with the deep, talented Spurs.
High flying Blake Griffin could face serious problems with the deep, talented Spurs.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Memphis also has plenty of talent as well.  The Grizzlies' best player is high-scoring Rudy Gay. Gay is a very tough defensive assignment with his unusually long arms and a decent shooting touch. The Grizzlies also feature talents such as Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.

Forget head-to-head regular season match-ups. The Spurs played the two teams a combined seven times and won six of them. The one loss was a home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers when Chris Paul took advantage of a missed game by Tony Parker to torch the Spurs for 36 points.

San Antonio will have home-court advantage against either opponent.

So which team would the Spurs rather face? Probably the Clippers.

Yes the Spurs beat the Grizzlies four times this past season. Yes, the Spurs will not be caught napping against the Grizzlies, since it was Memphis that upset San Antonio in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.

In spite of those compelling arguments, the Clippers just offer up too many windows of opportunity for San Antonio to exploit. San Antonio is deeper, and they have talent at the exact same positions where the Clippers have talent. Can Parker outplay Chris Paul? He really doesn't have to. A draw is a win for San Antonio.

Zach Randolph and the Grizzlies are nearly as deep as the Spurs in the front court.
Zach Randolph and the Grizzlies are nearly as deep as the Spurs in the front court.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

What about Blake Griffin? Well, Memphis has Marc Gasol clogging the middle. They also have Zach Randolph and Marreese Speights. That's a lot of big bodies for the Spurs to be concerned with. In Los Angeles, there's Griffin and then there's DeAndre Jordan and Kenyon Martin. 

The Spurs know right from the get-go that only one of those three players is a serious offensive threat. With Duncan, DeJuan Blair, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter, the Spurs have four big bodies to bang with Griffin.

Those bodies can also foul Griffin. Griffin is a 52 percent free-throw shooter. Put simply, San Antonio's depth seems more likely to be utilized to its advantage against the Clippers. 

Add it all up and here's what you've got. San Antonio's second-round opponent won't be a pushover regardless of who it is but if you have to choose who San Antonio has more matchup advantages with, it's the Clippers.

The motor that runs the Clippers is really based on the performance of two key valves, Paul and Griffin. The Spurs talent and depth gives them a decided advantage over a team with only two real go-to players.  

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