WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Jevon Carter (probable, knee), Dillon Brooks (out, toe), Jamychal Green (questionable, shoulder)
San Antonio: Rudy Gay (out, wrist)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
San Antonio Spurs: Derrick White, Bryn Forbes, Demar DeRozan, Lamarcus Aldridge, Jakob Poeltl
The Memphis Grizzlies are currently playing their most offensive basketball of the season.
Don’t get excited, no pun is involved, that is meant to be as insulting as it reads.
Following a 114-95 loss in New Orleans Monday night, the Grizzlies have lost six straight games. Even more critical is that after starting 3-0 against Southwest Division foes to begin the season, the Grizzlies now stand at 3-4. Their fortunes do not get any more favorable Wednesday night as they welcome the Spurs to Memphis for their second match up in four days versus San Antonio.
The Grizzlies struggles can be verified through countless numerical figures, no matter how complicated or simple. While overall the Grizzlies stand at 18-22, their season can be separated into two parts: the 12-5 start before Thanksgiving, and the 6-17 record since.
Despite all the stats one can muster, the explanation for the hot start and downward spiral since comes down to one number: 100. Specifically, when the Grizzlies or their opponents score 100 points in a game. When Memphis eclipses the century mark, they are 12-7. When they score below 100 points, they are 6-15. When the Grizzlies hold their opponents under 100, they are 10-2. However, when the opposition achieves triple digits, the Grizzlies are 8-20.
During the first 17 games of the season, the Grizzlies allowed their opponents to score 100 only 53% of the time. In the 23 games since, the opposition has scored 100 or more 78% of the time. As can be seen, for Memphis to succeed, they must keep their opponent in double digits.
That is going to be extremely hard to achieve against a white-hot Spurs team. Winners of five straight and 13 of 16 overall, the Spurs have gotten back to the winning brand of basketball that is synonymous with Greg Popovich. They are 16-8 overall since losing to the Grizzlies 104-103 on November 21st, and their season has certainly been impacted by the 100 point mark as well. In the 24 games since that loss to Memphis, the Spurs have scored more than 100 points 21 times, wining 16 of those games.
With this mentality in mind, here are some key factors to help the Grizzlies rediscover their winning ways:
Play as if there is nothing to lose. At this point in time, this statement could not be more true. Now suffering through their longest losing streak of the season, the Grizzlies have no need to be conservative. They need to play loose and aggressive. This game is setting up almost identically to the Grizzlies match up against the Lakers in Los Angeles. Going into that game with a five game losing streak and having lost by 23 to the Lakers a week before, the Grizzlies seemed to have little chance to win. However, good offensive execution and making Jaren Jackson Jr. a priority helped Memphis steal the win. If it worked then, it can work now, and Memphis needs any help it can get.
Limit Point Production. No, this not referencing the actual points you score. This is referencing the point guard position itself. Over the past 14 games, Bryn Forbes has registered a +143 mark when on the court. Patty Mills has been incredibly efficient against Memphis, including a +31 on Sunday. The Grizzlies have to defend the perimeter and play both Forbes and Mills tight on defense. While neither possess an elite ability to take the ball to the rim, both can punish you for giving them space. Keeping close tabs on both to limit the ability to produce is key.
Our Bench must be more productive. In their 2 previous match ups this year, the Grizzlies starters have been able to compete with the Spurs. However, the San Antonio bench has established their will against the Grizzlies reserves. Now with Jevon Carter at the helm, the Grizzlies second unit has to be cohesive and confident to stay with San Antonio. If the bench can be effective, then the starters can have a bit longer to rest to hopefully maintain a late lead or spark a needed comeback.
If the Grizzlies can hit their open shots and make perimeter life uncomfortable for the Spurs, they certainly can pull this game off.
With that in mind, the 100 point threshold will play a critical part in the outcome of this game. And this time, the Grizzlies will aim to stay under it anyway they can.
As a result, I say Memphis remembers what brought them success and joy in LA, and they pull off the upset.
Grizzlies 98, Spurs 93.