WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Jarell Martin (Questionable, hand), Mike Conley (Out, heel), James Ennis III (Out, calf), JaMychal Green (Out, ankle), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee)
San Antonio- Kawhi Leonard (Out, quadriceps), Rudy Gay (Out, heel), Manu Ginobili (Questionable, thigh), Pau Gasol (Questionable, wrist)
MEMPHIS- Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore, Dillon Brooks, Ivan Rabb, Marc Gasol
SAN ANTONIO- Dejounte Murray, Danny Green, Kyle Anderson, Davis Bertans, LaMarcus Aldridge
The Grizzlies won’t stop winning.
They refuse to. After winning four of their last five, it’s starting to look like the 8th seed isn’t all that far off!
You’d need binoculars, but it’s still visible at just 6.5 games out!
What’s more visible is the barrel staring Memphis in the face: last place in the league, just 3.5 games from being a reality.
The season has just only recently hit the halfway mark, there is plenty of time for Memphis to reach both of those destinations and come back to the winning percentage where they started. At this point last year, the Miami Heat were second-to-last in the conference at 11-30 and ended up missing out on the playoffs at 41-41 by just a tiebreaker. The Grizzlies wouldn’t need that drastic of a situation in either case, but time is running out if this team is convinced on competing for the playoffs.
With each passing game, their season becomes more written in stone. Here are storylines to watch as Memphis tries to beat back the tank against the division rival San Antonio Spurs.
I think it’s no coincidence that the great efforts of the Grizzlies recently have been carried by the young guys. Dillon Brooks has been fantastic lately, Ivan Rabb is starting to get playing time and take advantage, and Myke Henry had four big steals in the win against Philadelphia on Monday night. (Myke Henry > Joel Embiid? Too early to say.)
This team has been ravaged by injuries lately, with Mike Conley the storm cloud above it all. Even Chandler Parsons is sorely missed by this team. But the young guys have stepped up their performance to compensate. Dillon Brooks’ three-pointer has been falling, filling a bit of the hit-open-shots hole left by Chandler Parsons this year. While Jarell Martin may not play, his defense lately should be commended. He looks like a different player than he was in October.
But Brooks, Rabb, Henry, and Wayne Selden Jr., being as young as they are, aren’t consistent with their play throughout the game. If Memphis is going to rely on the young core more in this game and going forward, they’re going to deal with some instability. As the regular rotation players get healthy, this team’s performance will be volatile from game-to-game.
Spurs Road Woes
As great as the Spurs have been this season, that has not been the case on the road. San Antonio is 20-3 on their home court, best in the league. But their road record is 11-15, the third-worst among current playoff teams, squeaking by Milwaukee and Denver.
So what seems to be the difference? Their offense. While their defensive numbers are fairly similar at home or on the road, their offensive production decides to stay in San Antonio. I would too, it’s freaking freezing everywhere else.
Their offense on the road is listless. Out of 26 road games, the Spurs failed to register an offensive rating(rather than points per game to account for their glacial pace) of 100 in 12 of them. Their record in such games is 2-10. When the Spurs’ offense doesn’t get going, it really gets stuck in the mud. The Spurs as a whole don’t have a ton of bad games, but they ones they do have are absolute stinkers.
Despite the Spurs’ performance on the road, I expect them to win this game. I’m worried that the recent Woj story about a Kawhi-Spurs fracture might just motivate San Antonio to finish the year on a 37-game winning streak and finish the playoffs 16-0.
But on a micro level, they’re simply playing better basketball. Their defense is too good and the Memphis offense is unreliable.
San Antonio 100 Memphis 87