The 2013 NBA playoffs are just one round away from the crowning of this season's champion. As the conference finals take shape, however, each and every one of our legitimate title contenders are tasked with overcoming significant weaknesses.
The question is, what is it that could bring down these respective teams?
The Western Conference finals are set in stone, as the veteran San Antonio Spurs will take on the defensive-minded Memphis Grizzlies. This is a rematch of their legendary first-round series from 2011, when the No. 8-seeded Grizzlies upset San Antonio.
The common theme? Rudy Gay wasn't present then, and he's no longer with the team now.
In the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat have advanced, as expected, and will await their competitor. The options are the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks, who both thrive defensively but play a different brand of offense.
Regardless of which team Miami draws, each have their own weaknesses. No one is invincible.
Memphis Grizzlies: Perimeter Scoring
Regular Season Record: 56-26
Postseason Record: 8-3
Key Statistic: 4.7 3PT FGM (30th)
The Memphis Grizzlies are a dominant defensive force, pairing perimeter brilliance with interior power. From Mike Conley and Tony Allen locking down the guards to Tayshaun Prince controlling the corners and Marc Gasol defending the rim, there's little that Memphis can't do defensively.
On offense, however, there's one thing they're helpless with—shooting the three.
Conley leads a group that can shoot, but the issue isn't what they're capable of. The issue is that Memphis has no go-to shooter, nor does it possess a player that can counter a three-point attack from another team on a consistent basis.
Going up against a San Antonio Spurs team that ranked seventh in three-point field goals made and fourth in three-point goal percentage, that could be disastrous.
Memphis finished the 2012-13 regular season with an average of 4.7 three-point field goals made per game. Not only was that the lowest number in the league, but the Grizzlies were the only team to make less than 5.4 per game.
It doesn't help that they were 24th in three-point field-goal percentage.
Miami Heat: Rebounding
Regular Season Record: 66-16
Postseason Record: 8-1
Key Statistic: 38.6 RPG (30th)
The Miami Heat are the best team in the NBA, both by measures of advanced metrics, personnel and victories. With that being said, there is a significant area that the Heat are the worst in the league.
During the regular season, Miami was dead last in rebounds per game at 38.6. They were 28th in offensive rebounds per game, as well, at 8.2 per contest.
They were one of just three teams to grab less than 9.0 offensive rebounds per game.
Perhaps most dangerous of all, Miami was 20th in opponent offensive rebounding at 11.2 allowed per contest. This has resulted in their ranking of 29th in opponent second-chance points scored (via NBA.com).
For a team that approaches perfection with every performance, there is one area that could be their ultimate undoing.
San Antonio Spurs: Athleticism
Regular Season Record: 58-24
Postseason Record: 8-2
Key Statistic: 14.2 fast-break points allowed per game (24th)
The San Antonio Spurs are a veteran team with an abundance of three-point shooters, a dominant interior presence, a legendary head coach and depth at every position. With that being said, the Spurs are also a team that thrives on finesse more so than power or athleticism.
That's not a flaw, but here's what is—San Antonio just isn't athletic enough to maintain an up-tempo pace throughout the postseason.
When things slow down, the Spurs are one of the most dominant defensive teams in the NBA. They allow just 96.6 points per game, are ranked eighth in opponent field-goal percentage and have the length to contain the three-ball.
With that being said, there's one number that speaks volumes to their makeup—San Antonio was 24th in opponent fast-break points (via NBA.com).
The Memphis Grizzlies shouldn't pose too much of a threat in this instance, but the Miami Heat and New York Knicks are threats. Both teams get out in transition and attack the basket, both punishing the rim and pulling up for the three-ball.
For a Spurs team that dominates in the half court but struggles when the pace picks up, it's imperative that San Antonio slows it down from hereon out.
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