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Grading Every San Antonio Spurs' Western Conference Finals Performance

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2013

Grading Every San Antonio Spurs' Western Conference Finals Performance

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    The San Antonio Spurs' performance against the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals earned high grades for many members of the team.

    In four physical and hard-fought games, San Antonio swept a gritty Memphis team clean out of the playoffs.

    Tony Parker led the Spurs into the NBA Finals for the first time in six seasons, and Tim Duncan was quietly stellar despite being about 58 years old.

    Each San Antonio player passed the individual performance test, but read on to find out who aced the final exam.

    Note: Stats taken from NBA.com.

Tony Parker, Point Guard

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    Tony Parker was simply dynamic for San Antonio.

    He scored 24.5 points, dished 9.5 assists and snagged 3.3 rebounds per game throughout the series.

    Even in Game 2—his worst shooting night at 6-of-20 against the Grizz—Parker managed 15 points and an impressive 18 assists.

    But the 11th-year point guard saved his best for last; Parker netted 37 points going 15-of-21 from the field and dropped six dimes in Game 4.

    Parker did, however, commit 16 turnovers against the stingy Memphis defense, and he must improve during the finals to give the Spurs a chance to beat the Miami Heat.

    Overall Grade: A

Danny Green, Shooting Guard

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    Spurs fans had a love/hate relationship with Danny Green during the conference finals.

    While he was a defensive factor, blocking three shots in Game 2 and stealing two balls in Game 4, the Spurs lacked a consistent offensive attack from Green.

    When San Antonio played at home, Green converted on 6-of-10 from three-point land, but he struggled on the road, missing five of his seven long-distance attempts.

    Green must frequently knock down the triple to allow San Antonio to spread the floor against the Heat.

    Overall Grade: B-

Kawhi Leonard, Small Forward

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    From scoring to rebounding to defense, Kawhi Leonard contributed to the Spurs' wins in many different ways.

    Though he was surprisingly a non-factor on the glass, snagging only two rebounds in Game 1, Leonard voided that stat with an 18-point performance, including shooting 4-of-5 from distance.

    Leonard was back to normal grabbing 8.7 rebounds per game in the final three contests, but he made his presence felt with a timely three-point bucket in Game 4. Leonard extended the Spurs' lead to six on the possession immediately following Zach Randolph trimming San Antonio's advantage to three late in the third quarter.

    Also in Game 4, Leonard earned four of his game-high five steals in the final quarter of action to knock Memphis out of the postseason.

    Leonard's tough defense and solid offensive contribution has been pivotal to the Spurs' success all season, and it certainly will not change in the finals.

    Overall Grade: A-

Tim Duncan, Power Forward

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    Tim Duncan has never been flashy, and he played typical Duncan-esque basketball against Memphis.

    Though the 16-year veteran only managed six points and 10 rebounds in Game 1, San Antonio waxed the Grizzlies by 22.

    But in two overtime games and a series clincher, Duncan shined by, well, being the Big Fundamental. He scored 56 boring points, snared 27 ho-hum rebounds and swatted 10 emotionless shots en route to earning his fifth NBA Finals appearance.

    Duncan's main flaw was committing five fouls in both Games 2 and 3, which allowed the Grizzlies to recover late in the game to force overtime.

    Of course, there was the whole "make the first five-plus points in overtime" thing in both contests, but how meaningless is that?

    Wait, what's that? It's really important? Oh, OK.

    Overall Grade: A-

Tiago Splitter, Center

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    Tiago Splitter will not win any awards for his performance against Memphis, but he steadily improved throughout the series.

    Splitter was relatively nonexistent in Game 1, playing only 17 minutes, scoring one point and not grabbing a single rebound. The next three games, however, were a vastly different story.

    He shot a combined 15-of-21, scoring 11.3 points and bringing down 4.0 rebounds per contest. Splitter's biggest contributions were recording six points during overtime of San Antonio's pivotal Game 3 win and blocking four shots in Game 4.

    Splitter played 24.7 minutes and had 6.4 rebounds per game during the regular season, but a 3.0 mark in 26.3 minutes per matchup vs. Memphis must be improved upon during the finals to limit Miami's second-chance opportunities.

    Overall Grade: B

Manu Ginobili, Sixth Man

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    Manu Ginobili was probably the most confusing player for the Spurs in the series.

    He did not dominate either of Games 1 or 2, but Ginobili played decently well, averaging 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 turnovers per meeting.

    In Game 3, the three-time champion had a marvelous night, netting 19 points, snaring seven rebounds and dishing five assists.

    The series finale, however, showed Ginobili having a 6-6-6-6 night, and one of the sixes was in the turnover column.

    Ginobili must be a more consistent ball-handler against the Heat, otherwise Miami's fast-break offense will dominate the Spurs.

    Overall Grade: B-

    Bonus: Ginobili had the sweetest play of the series, nutmegging Tayshaun Prince.

Matt Bonner, Power Forward

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    Matt Bonner was fantastic in Game 1, draining four three-pointers, but that pretty much sums up the good part of his Western Conference Finals.

    Despite playing 27 minutes in Game 2, Bonner only scored five points and missed three of his four attempts from distance. He also had an awful, horrible, horrendous foul of Zach Randolph that sparked Memphis' seven-point comeback in the final minute to force OT.

    During Game 3, Bonner tolerably recovered, scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds, but his 11-minute, two-point and five-foul performance in the series finale was not exactly memorable.

    It is imperative Bonner capitalizes on his open looks against Miami—something he struggled to do vs. the Grizzlies after Game 1.

    Overall Grade: C

And the Rest of the Spurs

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    Boris Diaw

    Boris Diaw played his typical lost-in-the-shadows game, averaging 4.3 points and 1.8 rebounds per matchup, but his size in the post is what gave Diaw nearly 18 minutes per contest.

    Looking ahead to the NBA Finals, Diaw must win his matchups against Chris "Birdman" Andersen and Udonis Haslem while Duncan is on the bench.

    Overall Grade: C+

     

    Gary Neal

    Gary Neal scored 11 points in the Spurs' Game 1 blowout win before playing just 32 minutes during the remainder of the Western Conference Finals.

    His few, yet productive minutes will help Parker and Green save energy for the crucial fourth quarter against the Heat.

    Overall Grade: C

     

    Cory Joseph

    Cory Joseph had three points and five rebounds in Game 2, and he had layups on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter of Game 4.

    Similar to Neal, Joseph's main jobs are to spell San Antonio's guards and to not turn the ball over—something of which he did a fine job vs. Memphis, committing only two turnovers in 37 minutes of action.

    Overall Grade: B-

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