WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 8:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: TNT, Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS - Tony Allen (Out, right calf), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee)
SAN ANTONIO - None
MEMPHIS - Mike Conley, Wayne Selden Jr., Vince Carter, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
SAN ANTONIO - Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon
It’s the day of reckoning for the Grizzlies.
The squad comes in tonight facing elimination after losing Game 5 in San Antonio on Tuesday night. They come back home for what’s guaranteed to be a rowdy crowd trying to will their team to a Game 7. Memphis has proved the team can win at home, so they’ll have to show it again tonight.
In this series (and in the regular season), each team has taken care of business and won all their games at home. The Memphis crowd and the Grind House combine for one of the best homecourt advantages in the NBA. Especially for this team, who all play best off emotion, this place will be rocking.
Games 3 and 4 proved that Memphis has what it takes to play with this Spurs team. A dominant performance in Game 3, followed by weathering 23 turnovers and 43 points from Kawhi in Game 4, showed this team can win this game. They have exceeded my expectations already, which may or may not be good for Grizz Nation because now there is hope to possibly take the series.
The Spurs still only need to win one of the next two, and preventing that is a daunting task. However, besides Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili’s breakout last game, it’s been the Kawhi show, and that’s not a good sign for the Spurs. Because of the Grizzlies’ inside presence, LaMarcus Aldridge hasn’t made much of an impact. This sets up well for the Grizz to hold their serve and win at home.
Here are a few things to take note of before tonight’s big game.
Let the Stars Shine
As mentioned by Kevin O’Connor on The Ringer’s NBA Podcast, Memphis has a lot going for them in this series with their stars on the court. Obviously, San Antonio has the best player in this series in Kawhi, but after that, the Grizzlies arguably have the next best three in the series in Conley, Gasol, and Randolph (if you like him more than Aldridge). Star power will be something that Game 6 will depend on. Keep on pounding that Marc and Mike high pick and roll until the Spurs break. Memphis better come with all the fight in the world, considering what’s at stake.
Coach Fizdale and His Bench
Looking back at the box score from Game 5, there was one thing that stuck out. Not counting the two minutes of garbage time, Wayne Selden Jr. and Troy Daniels played 8 minutes of crucial court time for the Grizzlies. That may not be a problem in the regular season. However, in the playoffs, rotations become shorter since you want your best guys out on the floor, and there are only around eight guys that should see major minutes. What we saw in Game 5 was TD and Selden splitting these minutes, which creates difficulties because these two are almost exact opposites.
Selden is defense-first and could guard a Patty Mills against spraying threes again, but he cannot shoot consistently and mainly has driving ability. On the other hand, Daniels is a pure shooter that can create instant offense, but he is a humongous hole on defense, as we saw with Mills scoring 20 on Tuesday night. It becomes difficult to have them both play when the starters need a break.
Fizz should choose to play only one. After seeing the Spurs make almost every shot they attempted in that last quarter, I would go with Selden for defense. Have Gasol in for an offensive threat if Conley is sitting, but only Selden out there until the starters catch their breath.
San Antonio’s Back Court Resurgence
In Game 5, Tony Parker, Patty Mills, and Manu Ginobili had 16, 20, and 10 points, respectively. These were breakout games for Mills and Ginobili. With Parker having one big game already, this was a big confidence boost for these three, who normally are sporadic in terms of their effect on games. While Kawhi is going to have his huge impact on the game, it’s key that Memphis keep those guards in check. All three impact their team in leadership as well, so shutting them down is the best hope for winning a Game 6 tonight.
This game is probably one of the hardest ones to predict thus far. Grizzlies are playing for their playoff lives at home. Spurs are coming off a Manu revival and know they don’t want another game in this series as the Houston Rockets have already clinched their series. My Game 3 prediction could not have been further from what actually happened, so who knows what will happen in this game.
However, as I mentioned, I wouldn’t feel very good about Manu coming alive again. He contributes more than just points. Patty Mills found his stroke, and I don’t know if Memphis can make adjustments to guard both guards and Kawhi.
Then again, JaMychal Green had a great game Tuesday which kept Z-Bo on the bench. So maybe the team can do it with the role players feeling the crowd and Randolph due for a big game. As we all saw in Games 3 and 4, Believe Memphis is a real thing, especially at home. It will be an incredible game that comes down to the wire.
Spread: Memphis +4. Unfortunately, I am going to have to go with the Spurs to close it out tonight. The game is a virtual coin flip. I can see every situation playing out, so I wouldn’t make a huge play either way on this. Memphis moneyline would be good value for this game, but if I had to pick I would take the Grizzlies plus the points, but they’re going to lose the game.
Spurs- 98, Grizzlies- 95
All stats provided by NBA.com