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Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs Preview: We meet again

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The Grizzlies and Spurs face off for the 3rd time in December after splitting the first two matchups. With both teams coming off recent struggles, who will prevail?

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
2014/15 NBA Season
vs
2014/15:
22-8 (12-4 home)
2014/15:
19-13 (9-8 road)
December 30, 2014
FedEx Forum
7:00 PM CDT
Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Tony Parker
Courtney Lee SG Danny Green
Tony Allen SF Marco Belinelli
Jon Leuer PF Tim Duncan
Marc Gasol C Tiago Splitter
2014/15 Advanced Stats
93.7 (27th) Pace 95.4 (T-18th)
106.2 (T-8th) OEff 105.4 (11th)
102.0 (T-10th) DEff 100.7 (6th)
49.4 (T-18th) RebR 51.1 (10th)

Spurs vs Grizzlies coverage

Opponent's Blog: Pounding The Rock

Injuries

Spurs: Kawhi Leonard (Out, hand)

Grizzlies: Zach Randolph (Questionable, knee)

Previous Matchups

The Spurs weathered a too-little too-late run from the Grizzlies on December 5th to win 107-101.   The rematch on December 17th resulted in one of the most epic regular season Grizzlies games ever.  Zach Randolph's 21 points and 21 rebounds and a Marc Gasol buzzer-beating 3 pointer highlighted a hard-fought 117-116 3OT win in San Antonio.

Points of Grizzly Emphasis

Find the Grind on D

The Grizzlies are currently tied for 10th in the league in defensive efficiency, which would be their worst finish since 2009-10.   This is a departure even from earlier this season, when Memphis was ranked 2nd.  There are a number of issues contributing to the descent: some is the eye injury and subsequent absence of Tony Allen; some is the series of talented offensive teams the Grizzlies have faced; and some is the Grizzlies' poor rebounding efforts (as it stands, this would be their worst rebounding rate since 2008-09).  Which leads to point two...

Rebound the ball

The Grizzlies are allowing more rebounds, more opportunities for opponents, and therefore more points.  The offense has been fairly steady throughout the season - defense and rebounding must be steady also if the Grizzlies wish to remain a true contender.  The Grizzlies' boards have been up and down throughout the season, and Memphis has leaned heavily on Zach Randolph's broad shoulders to provide rebounding.  The Grizz will no doubt wish for Z-Bo's presence tonight, but may have to rely on bench players and a team effort to fill his big shoes.

Who will right the ship?

While the Grizzlies and Spurs are both coming off wins against quality opponents (Heat and Rockets, respectively), they have been struggling recently, with Memphis 1-4 in its last 5 and San Antonio 3-7 in its last 10.  The advanced statistics indicate that the Spurs have still been playing good basketball, while the Grizzlies have struggled to rebound and defend.  This game will likely be a sign of which team is returning to form.

Why you should watch this game

After two previous meetings in December, including an exhausting triple overtime thriller, you may think you have seen quite enough of the Spurs.   That win seemed to be a small turning of the tide in this matchup, though, and tonight's game could be critical to seeding when May rolls around.  It's also Spurs-Grizzlies!  If that wasn't enough, Marc Gasol is painting his masterpiece this season.   Tune into see Big Spain's beautiful game if nothing else!

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