This is the initial version of Chatting with the Enemy where we ask questions to the opposing team’s bloggers before big Grizzlies games. There couldn’t be a more timely opportunity today as the Grizzlies, with the best record in the NBA, play the San Antonio Spurs who are a mere half game behind in the always tough Southwest division.
So to get a grasp of the opposing sides opinions we asked Jesse Blanchard of the renowned ESPN TrueHoop blog 48 Minutes of Hell.
3SOB: Would Pops have rested his players against Miami if Memphis wasn’t the next game on the schedule? Did they really duck Miami to get ready for the Grizzlies?
JB: No. Pop would have rested his guys regardless of which opponent was coming up. His decision had more to do with playing four games in five nights on the road andore games than any team so far this year. The timing, with a nationally televised game was a bonus to stick it to David Stern, but not a factor. It could have been Paloma Pitzer (Popovich’s old Division III coaching gig) coming up in the schedule and Pop would have sent his guys home.
3SOB: What worries the Spurs fans the most about Memphis?
JB: The same thing that worries all fans I imagine: that beast of a frontline. Though some of our educated fans might take heed to fear the development of Mike Conley, which appears to have taken the Grizz to a new level. Or their newfound perimeter shooting. And perhaps most importantly, their ability to muck up driving and passing lanes and offenses in general.
3SOB: The Spurs have played 11 road games already and still have the rodeo road trip coming up. How fair do you feel the schedulers were this season? Does the regular season even matter for a team like the Spurs anyway?
JB: I don’t think the schedule in itself is unfair, but David Stern restricting coaches’ ability to manage it is definitely unfair. I don’t expect that fine to hold up. As for the regular season. It absolutely matters. Sure, the Spurs are a near lock for 50+ wins and can’t wait until the playoffs, but Popovich uses the season to experiment and find the best possible version of his team.
3SOB: Danny Green, DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw, how does Pops keep finding seemingly undesirable players that perform so well in San Antonio?
JB: Because a lot of teams reach for high potential and the Spurs for best fit. They have a system, they find the skill sets that match that system, and most importantly they have one of the best development staffs in the NBA to help make these player.
3SOB: How much longer do you believe Duncan, Ginobili and Parker can be contending forces in the West and are there players on the roster now to replace them?
JB: I’d say we have a three year window. The Spurs window is directly tied to Tim Duncan, as has alway been the case.
Thanks Jesse and the best of luck tonight, as long as that luck doesn’t involve beating the Grizzlies.