End of an Era: San Antonio Spurs Fall to Younger and Hungrier Grizzlies in Six

Orly Rios Jr.Analyst IIApril 30, 2011

For just the third time in 14 seasons, Tim Duncan and the Spurs will not advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs.
For just the third time in 14 seasons, Tim Duncan and the Spurs will not advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Over the last 14 years, the San Antonio Spurs have been the model of success in the NBA.

No mega superstars, no egos, no blockbuster signings, and no off-the-court problems.

The Spurs built their franchise by investing heavily in the draft and signing players who silently contributed over the years. San Antonio could run-and-gun with the likes of Dallas and Phoenix or trade blow-for-blow with the top contenders in the leagues.

They could play to any situation at any time that it called for, until this year.

The Spurs weren't just older, slower, and smaller, they were also outplayed, out-rebounded, out-muscled, and out-hustled by the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. If not for two amazing last second shots in Game 5, San Antonio would have lost four games to one.

After a hot start to the season, Richard Jefferson reverted back to his 2010 Spurs version. Starting in November, Jefferson's points per game dropped every single month, from 14.7 in November down to 8.7 in March.

DeJuan Blair was non-existent in the playoffs, Antonio McDyess was outplayed by the younger and hungrier Zach Randolph, and The Red Rocket, Matt Bonner, who during the regular season hit nearly 46 percent of his three-pointers, shot just 27 percent in the playoffs.

In the end, when the stats are looked over and video is broken down, one conclusion can be drawn—the Spurs are old, slow and one-and-done.

It is the end of an era.

If the Spurs wish to continue their playoff run for a 15th season, they must do something they rarely, if ever, do—sign a big time free agent and get younger quick.

All season long, the Spurs had trouble down low and never was this more evident than in the first round of the playoffs against the Grizzlies and their tandem of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.

The Spurs have never been a physical team (although Steve Nash may beg to differ) but starting this offseason, they may have to become one to compete for a NBA title.