As the Memphis Grizzlies make not only their fans, but many other NBA fans believe this team can shake their sad past and reach the NBA Finals, they meet a San Antonio Spurs team determined to defy its core's age. While this Western Conference finals series is a rematch of a first-rounder from 2011, the Grizz and Spurs are situated quite differently now.
The Grizzlies' complexion is a bit different. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph share the frontcourt more evenly than they did then. Since the Rudy Gay trade, Mike Conley has started to play more like a lead guard than a caretaker.
The Spurs have shifted to deal with their age. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are settling into their scoring roles.
Two years ago, the Grizz shook aside the absence of Gay and took advantage of an injury to Manu Ginobili as they upended the top-seeded Spurs in six games. Randolph had three 25-10 games. Tim Duncan struggled mightily, averaging 12.7 points per game while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and turning it over 3.1 times per game.
Duncan is looking like his younger self in this postseason, averaging 18.7 points per game while holding a 27 percent usage rate and allowing 97 points per 100 possessions.
The two teams appear to be moving in opposite directions. Memphis is playing in their first conference finals in franchise history, with Conley and Gasol each arriving in his brilliant prime. The Spurs are transitioning from one dynasty's core to a future core. Their present outlook isn't pretty, considering how they haven't made the finals since 2007.
Here's a game-by-game look at whether the Grizz will grind forward to another first or the Spurs will step closer to reclaiming their old glory.
Advanced metrics come from basketball-reference.com.