WHERE: AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas
WHEN: 7:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Chandler Parsons (Out, Knee)
SAN ANTONIO- Dejounte Murray (Out, Groin), David Lee (Probable, Foot)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Vince Carter, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
SAN ANTONIO- Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon
Tonight, the Grizzlies head to San Antonio for their first match-up against the Spurs at their place. Memphis has had great success against this team, winning both the season series games at home, one being just this past Saturday night. Now the real test happens when they have to go into a tough environment trying to make up for a questionable loss to the Pelicans Tuesday night.
The implications of this game go farther than just tonight. As it stands now, the Grizzlies and Spurs look to be set on a collision course for yet another playoff match-up. Even after the first two games in Memphis, you best believe Coach Gregg Popovich will come out with a winning mindset trying to stop the Memphis momentum against them.
This is a crucial game for this road trip because of what lies ahead. Memphis has the Spurs tonight and then they fly to Oakland for another away game against the Warriors on Sunday. Playing the two best teams in the league in back-to-back games is a daunting task. If they can split one of these two games, it will help the road trip get back on track.
Here are a few things to note before tonight’s big game.
After Tuesday night’s debacle, ZBo came out and said it was the worst game he had ever played, and took credit for the loss. Well, this is the perfect game to get back in form. Randolph is averaging 15 points and 6.5 rebounds from the first two games of this season series. He has been dominant against San Antonio’s bench, most of the damage happening through David Lee.
If ZBo can come back from his poor game Tuesday, that will be one of the keys to victory for the Grizzlies. He has proven he can contribute in both games, so it will be vital he continues this trend.
As we all have come to know and loathe, Kawhi Leonard is the best player on the Spurs and one of the best players in the Association. He is having one of the statistically best two-way years we have ever seen. Kawhi’s season is so interesting because he doesn’t get the attention that Westbrook and Harden do. This is what Memphis is going to have to control tonight if they want to have a shot to win the game.
He didn’t play in the teams’ first meeting and had a commanding, but not dominating 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists in the second matchup last Saturday. The Grizzlies defense held him to 6-15 shooting. This is the formula for Memphis.
The Grizzlies need to make someone else step up to beat them. Bring the same game plan they had in Memphis and the team could pull this one out.
All things considered, I feel like this is a rough game for the Grizzlies. The Spurs have been great at home this season. This, coupled with the fact that Coach Pop will be hungry for a win against Memphis, doesn’t bode well for the Grizzlies. The Spurs will be wanting to send a message that, if this is a future 2-7 playoff match-up, they aren’t too worried playing the Grizzlies.
Regrettably, I don’t see Memphis winning this challenging game on the road. Even with all the success, they had last game against a full Spurs roster, this is a different beast away from the Grindhouse. This game and the next one on April 4th should be similar to the first round of a boxing match. Both teams will feel each other out trying different tactics to see if any work. Then, in the later rounds (playoffs), both teams will unleash everything they have on one another.
Spread: Spurs -8 I am going to have to take the Spurs minus the eight points in this one. I feel like San Antonio has something to prove in front of a feisty Thursday night crowd. They will look to control this game from the opening tip.
Spurs- 103, Grizzlies- 91