WHERE: AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas
WHEN: 6:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Grayson Allen (Out, Left Ankle)
SAN ANTONIO- NONE
MEMPHIS- Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
SAN ANTONIO- Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, Trey Lyles, LaMarcus Aldridge
The Grizzlies are back on the road after a quick game at home against the Dallas Mavericks. The team dropped that one after they just could not get a defensive stop when it mattered most. Tonight, they will hope to sure up things against a San Antonio team who has always caused problems for the Grizzlies.
Memphis has shown some fight over the last few games outside of their fourth quarter against Orlando. It has been some great offensive performances by the whole roster scoring well over 100 a few times this past week. The negative is on the defensive end which we’ll dive further into later on.
For tonight, the Grizzlies will have to get some contributions from Jaren Jackson Jr. and Valanciunas. The Spurs on only a one man show down low. LaMarcus Aldridge is a force to be reckoned with, but their other starting front court teammate, Trey Lyles, is where to attack. If Jaren can stay on the floor, he could take advantage of this match-up.
San Antonio will be coming off a home loss to the Boston Celtics. The Spurs were completely out-played in that game from start to finish, so expect them to have some sense of urgency as to not repeat the same problems as Saturday night.
Here is one major thing to watch for in this contest:
Solving the Defensive Issues
This season has been exciting for the young Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant is showing off and turning this team into a must-watch experience each night. However, even with this excitement, the defense of this team has not been anywhere close to where it should be.
The Grizzlies have allowed over 100 points in each game this season and have allowed over 115 in their last three games. For the whole season, they are giving up 120.1 points per game. That is less than ideal for this young team’s confidence. They seem like they are having such great offensive rhythm but will never have a chance at a win because of how many they are giving up. It is a problem that will not correct itself, and it must be fixed or at least addressed if the team expects to build a winning culture with the young players.
Games like tonight will be a good litmus test of how bad the defense really is. The Spurs are a team who will slow the game down and play at their pace. They do not have that ball dominant scorer to threaten a takeover. It is sound team basketball. The Grizzlies will have a chance to set up their half court defense and try and find something that works.
This poor defense is a big problem for Taylor Jenkins to fix. His starting rotation have never been lock down defenders. Jae Crowder has lost a step on that side and Jaren Jackson commits a foul over actually defending most times, so it is difficult to implement a strategy to fix this early trend. Jenkins has always had a switch everything approach, but it has not seemed to work. Tonight, it will be interesting to watch if they try anything new. They will have time to get set in a defense and lock into their ways. Score first and get back and set on defense.
With all that being said, I think the Grizzlies will keep this close. Jaren Jackson Jr. will have a big game if Aldridge can focus on Valanciunas, and he can take on Lyles. He should be able to offensively do what he wants if he can actually stay on the court. Defensively, the problems will still be there, but the slow pace will favor a close game. Spurs will win outright, but the Grizzlies will keep it close and cover.
Spread: Grizzlies +11
Take the Grizzlies and the points.
Memphis- 97, San Antonio- 103