Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs Game Preview

Mike Conley will be depended on tonight against the Spurs - Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies will return to the home court tonight to take on the rival San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzlies will possibly be a bit short handed this evening, as Courtney Lee may not yet be available to the Grizzlies as the NBA processes the Jerryd Bayless trade. Will Memphis be able to rally together and defeat the mighty Spurs?

2013/2014 NBA Season
vs
15-18 (7-11 home)
Won 1
26-8 (13-3 road)
Won 1
January 7th, 2014
FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN
7:00 PM CDT
Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Tony Parker
Tony Allen SG Marco Belinelli
Tayshaun Prince SF Kawhi Leonard
Zach Randolph PF Jeff Ayres
Kosta Koufos C Tim Duncan
2013/14 Advanced Stats
92.4 (30th) Pace 97.3 (12th)
102.4 (16th) OEff 107.4 (4th)
105.0 (23rd) DEff 99.1 (5th)

Injury Report-

Memphis- Marc Gasol (Out, Knee) Quincy Pondexter (Out, Foot) Tony Allen (Day-to-Day, Hand)

San Antonio- Tiago Splitter (Out, Shoulder)

For the Spurs perspective, check out Pounding The Rock

For the first time in a while, there is a distinctly positive feeling coming out of Grizz Nation. Memphis won two games out of three on their most recent road trip and are returning to the Grindhouse tonight for the first game of a four game home stand. The Courtney Lee trade makes the Grizzlies better, as does the impending return of Marc Gasol. All signs point toward a run at a playoff spot, which is not too far out of reach with the 8 seed only 3 games in the loss column away...

This positive mojo, however, does not necessarily help the Grizzlies heading into tonight's contest against the darn good San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs, led by Head Coach Gregg Popovich, continue to chug along as the model of consistent excellence they are. The Spurs are currently on pace to exceed 55 wins and win the Southwest division yet again. Tony Parker is averaging 18 points and 6 assists per game, Kawhi Leonard is providing solid all-around production and Tim Duncan is still a presence despite having a below average season when compared to his career numbers.

Even with positivity growing, tonight's game will be a test of the depth of the Grizzlies.

The Spurs are a force to be reckoned with. Grizzlies fans know this all too well. While Gasol is close to returning, he only began light work on Monday and is likely still about a week away from returning. Courtney Lee is in Memphis now but there is no guarantee that he is able to play tonight as the NBA processes the trade. So, add all that on to the possibility that Tony Allen may also be out and you have a short-handed Grizzlies team going against the mighty Spurs.

How can the Grizzlies overcome adversity and upset the Spurs?

Survive the Bench Assault

The last time these two teams played, the now infamous "Marc Gasol Injury" game, the bench of the Spurs absolutely ran the Grizzlies in to the ground. 43 points, led by Manu Ginobili's 15 point 7 assist performance, allowed for the Spurs to grow their lead while their starters rested. Any time this happens, it is a tremendous advantage to any team.

A major difference between these Grizzlies and the team that faced the Spurs 22 games ago is the development of the bench, in particular the bench bigs. Ed Davis and Jon Leuer have strung together multiple consistent performances, with Leuer being a solid stretch 4 option alongside the athletic Davis. In order for the Grizzlies to keep the game close against the powerful Spurs bench, these two bigs will have to have big games and take advantage of the weakened Spurs front line with Splitter out. Nick Calathes will have to make sound decisions with the basketball and Mike Miller will have to hit some big threes.

Considering the Grizzlies will be off until Friday after tonight, expect Mike Conley and Zach Randolph to log a couple more minutes than usual to offset missing Bayless if Lee and Allen are indeed unable to go.

Share the Love

Once again harkening back to the last Spurs encounter, the Spurs were able to convert 53% of their shots on 25 assists. The Grizzlies, however, shot 44% on 16 assists. The Spurs had 4 players with at least 4 assists in the contest. It wasn't just Tony Parker dishing out dimes. The Spurs play within themselves and their system, creating for themselves as well as each other.

Memphis will have to be better off of screens and cuts than they were in the previous meeting with the Spurs.

Whether it be off of screens, in transition from turnover opportunities or driving and dishing at the rims, the Grizzlies need to find the open man and deliver them the basketball. Off of that pass, Memphis needs to continue to try to finish strong at the rim. Finishing easy lay-ups and converting and-one tries will be crucial in a game where every point will likely have to be fought for.

#FEEDMC11/ZBO

On nights like tonight, you have to ride your studs. The last time these two teams met, Mike Conley abused the Spurs to the tune of 28 points on 19 shots and 4 steals. Zach Randolph had an off night with 16 points on 15 shots and 10 rebounds alongside 4 turnovers. Conley will continue to have opportunities to take advantage of lackadaisical Spurs guard defense, and with Splitter sidelined Zach will have more opportunities against true power forwards than he would have had otherwise.

These kinds of games are ideal opportunities for two of the brightest stars in the Grizzly galaxy to burn their brightest.

The Prediction

Memphis will keep it close through the first half, converting easy baskets and taking advantage of the Splitter-less Spurs defense. San Antonio will come out in the second half and make adjustments, eventually pulling away from the Grizzlies once the Spurs bench comes in starting midway through the third quarter,

San Antonio 104, Memphis 97

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