Game Preview: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

After beating the Denver Nuggets back in the friendly confines of the FedEx Forum to get the weekend started, the Grizzlies will end the weekend and usher in a new week by heading to San Antonio to play the best team in the NBA.

2013/2014 NBA Season
at
45-31 (21-17 road)
Won 1
59-17 (30-8 home)
Lost 1
April 6th, 2014
AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX
6:00 PM CDT
Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Tony Parker
Courtney Lee SG Danny Green
Mike Miller SF Kawhi Leonard
Zach Randolph PF Tim Duncan
Marc Gasol C Tiago Splitter
2013/14 Advanced Stats
92.19 (30th) Pace 97.02 (13th)
102.9 (19th) OEff 108.3 (4th)
101.9 (T-9th) DEff 99.7 (T-3rd)

Line: San Antonio by 8: O/U: 192

Opponent's Blog: Pounding The Rock

Injury Report: Memphis: Tayshaun Prince - Questionable (Ankle); Quincy Pondexter - Out (Foot); San Antonio: Aron Baynes - Questionable (Ribs); Austin Daye - Questionable (Lat); Matt Bonner - Out (Calf)

Memphis Grizzlies Tickets

Defend the Pick & Roll

The Grizzlies have struggled to defend the Spurs pick-and-roll orchestrated by Tony Parker for years now, and that's a big reason the Grizzlies flamed out so spectacularly in the Western Conference Finals last season. The pick-and-roll defense hasn't been good lately, in large part because teams have figured out to attack the weak link, Zach Randolph. I love ZBo as much as the next guy, but his defense has been really bad this season. His lateral quickness is nonexistent, so hedging the pick-and-roll is out of the question. Icing the pick-and-roll is as well given Parker's penchant for craftiness on ball screens. If the Grizzlies are to have any hope to win against the best team in the league, they will need to shut down what has been the Spurs go-to offensive move against the Grizzlies for years.

Three Ball

A team as good as the Spurs is not beaten easily. The great equalizer in the modern game for teams with less talent than their opposition is, of course, the three ball. The problem is the Grizzlies don't shoot threes. They take and make less threes than any other team in the NBA. That will have to change against the world-beating Spurs. The Spurs defense is stout under head coach Gregg Popovich, but one area where it is weak is spot-ups, which they rank a mediocre 19th in the NBA at defending. Mike Miller and Courtney Lee are both excellent spot-up shooters, and the Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger will need to be creative to give each of them ample opportunities to square up and let it fly from deep.

Get to the Charity Stripe

It's not just threes the Grizzlies don't shoot. They also don't get to the free throw line very often, ranking 28th in the NBA in that department. In the team's last game, on Friday night against the Nuggets, they got to the charity stripe a whopping 38 times, well exceeding their average of 20.3 free throws a game. The Grizzlies need to both make it easier on themselves and get some of the Spurs key cogs in foul trouble to leave the AT&T Center with a victory.

Final Prediction

It's hard to pick any team to beat the Spurs right now, particularly one as inconsistent as the Grizzlies. In this intense playoff race, the Grizzlies need to win every game, but beating the Spurs is probably just too much of an ask. Unless Popovich benches his starters to give them rest for either the majority or all of the night, I just don't see the Grizzlies leaving San Antonio with a win. Tony Parker will orchestrate the offense masterfully, as he always does, and the Grizzlies ghastly pick-and-roll defense will show itself again. The good guys will play well enough for fans to have hope for most of the game, but the Spurs will snatch the last glimmer away right at the very end.

Final Score: Memphis 93, San Antonio 97

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