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Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Game Preview

Grizzlies look to rebound from Lakers loss against potential playoff foe Spurs

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (42-35, 19-21 Away) vs. San Antonio Spurs (59-17, 30-8 Home)

WHERE: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

WHEN: 7:30 PM CT

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 ESPN Memphis

Injury Report:

Memphis- Tony Allen (Questionable, left eye), Marc Gasol (Questionable, left foot strain), JaMychal Green (Questionable, left shoulder soreness), Andrew Harrison (Probable, right ankle)

San Antonio- Danny Green (Out, left quad contusion), Dajounte Murray (Out, left groin)

Projected Starters:

Grizzlies- Mike Conley, Wayne Selden, Vince Carter, James Ennis III, Brandan Wright

Spurs- Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon

With 8 days remaining in the regular season, the Grizzlies have a lot of work to do if they want to jump ahead in the standings to avoid the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Currently 1.5 games back of the Thunder for the 6th seed, the Grizzlies need to take advantage of their relatively easy remaining schedule if they want to jump the Thunder.

The next two nights could be a major factor in determining the Grizzlies’ postseason fate, but they will need to take care of business tonight in San Antonio before they focus on their date tomorrow with the Thunder. Here are a few key factors that will determine the result of tonight’s game (and the rest of the season).

Control the First Half

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs are not only a great basketball team, but also a smart one. Given that it’s unlikely they can catch the Warriors for the 1 seed, they are firmly planted at the 2 seed in the Western Conference. The Spurs have been known to rest their players this late in the season, and although as of this writing they have no announced plans to rest anyone, things could change if the Grizzlies can jump out and hold an early lead. With the Spurs on the first night of a back-to-back, a big lead could cause Popovich to lay back and play his young guys while allowing Tony Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge, and others to rest and get ready for the playoffs.

Bring Defensive Intensity

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies won the second match-up against the Spurs thanks in large part to their defensive effort. The 7 steals and 3 blocks only lead to 7 Grizzlies fast break points, but any time you can take possessions away from the Spurs you’ll take it. For the most part this season, the Grizzlies have gone as their defense has. When the defense is on point and playing well, the Grizzlies typically win. When the defense is essentially non-existent (because apparently, that’s the only other option), the Grizzlies lose. If the Grizzlies want any chance at winning tonight, their defense will need to be on its A game.

Crash the Boards

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Like the defensive effort, strong rebounding is typically a major factor in Grizzlies wins. On Sunday afternoon, the Lakers were able to grab 57 rebounds (17 offensive!!!!) to the Grizzlies’ 38 rebounds (5 offensive). If guys like Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., and Thomas Robinson can destroy the Grizzlies on the glass, what damage will Dewayne Dedmon, Pau Gasol, and LaMarcus Aldridge do? Getting a healthy Gasol and Green back would help the Grizz with their recent rebounding woes, but if they’re unable to go someone will need to step up.

The Prediction

The Grizzlies will need to play and put themselves in a position to win, but do so without hurting their chances tomorrow night against the Thunder. If this means pulling Conley when the game is getting out of reach, which GBBer Brandon C. discussed in great detail here, so be it. A win tonight would be great for the Grizzlies to gather momentum going into the playoff stretch, but a win tomorrow night would probably benefit the Grizzlies more.

Ultimately I expect the Grizzlies to come out fighting and to prove that Sunday’s loss to the Lakers was a fluke. Hopefully they’re able to get Gasol and Green back to shake off some rust. Either way, I expect the Grizzlies’ fight to be enough to keep the game close but ultimately result in a loss.

Spurs 105, Grizzlies 98

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