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What today’s playoff games say about the state of the NBA

Legendary talent vs. the next generation

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Three Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

I am a long time Spurs fan, one spoiled with the longevity of David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. With the exception of Parker’s lone season in Charlotte, all four players spent their entire NBA careers in San Antonio. Add to that Gregg Popovich, the winningest and longest tenured active head coach in the NBA, is the only coach many fans under 30 could even recall, and it’s easy to see why legends, dynasties, and consistency are in our wheelhouse.

Now the Spurs embrace change, youth, and the evolution of the game.

Both of tonight’s NBA closeout games feature the same shift in generational change.

For the youngsters, it doesn't look good.

This season, two of the most exciting teams to watch have been the Memphis Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings. Their energetic squads, led by two of the fastest downhill point guards in Ja Morant and De’Aaron Fox respectively, have brought a crop of new names into the postseason.

But both teams face elimination tonight at the hands of opponents stacked with institutional knowledge, MVPs, and NBA Champions.

Morant and the Grizzlies have played this series with the backs against the wall, not only by losing game 1 and games 3 and 4, but because Dillon Brooks threw down the gauntlet calling out one of the greatest players of all time before being ejected for a Flagrant Two and then going on a cold shooting streak (he scored seven, eleven, and eight points in the last three games respectively).

Taking on LeBron James was bold, but losing will stick with Brooks and the Grizzlies when they (most likely) eliminated in Los Angeles tonight.

The Kings also face elimination on the road. And what can you say, other than the Warriors have come alive (as they always do) in the postseason. Stephen Curry is one of the most difficult players to defend, and the moment he gets a double team, there is a 3-point sharp shooter standing in a corner awaiting the opportunity to make someone pay.

Stephen Curry and LeBron James are two of the greatest to ever play the game and their ranking in the standings do not define what they do when the season ends and the path to a championship begins.

Responding to a loss, adjusting, and coming back to face the same opponent in a seven-game series is a different beast than winning one game during the regular season. No one has more postseason miles than James. And if anyone doubts that Curry can take over a game and will his team to a victory just hasn't watched enough basketball.

Perhaps the Grizzlies and Kings are just another season of team building from making it out of the first round next season. Maybe they lack a key piece that can be acquired through free agency or the draft.

But the odds, momentum, and home court advantage leads to the prediction that both the Grizzlies and Kings will be heading home empty handed and will be watching there remaining rounds from the comfort of their own homes.

The Lakers are favored by 4.5 points tonight.*

The Warriors are favored by 7.5 points.*

Both odds were pulled from on-line sources on Thursday morning and may have changed since.

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