WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Jonas Valanciunas (Questionable, Foot)
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
Only a few years ago, these two team used to be bitter Southwest division rivals who had some heated playoff match-ups. Fast forward to the present, and the Grizzlies look to be coming off their rebuild with upward trajectory while the Spurs’ dynasty may be coming to a close with a tear down on the horizon.
The Memphis Grizzlies come into this game with so many questions to answer. Just what type of team are they going to be this season? They are coming off a home win to the Kings that was an impressive win, but before that, they lost two straight on the road. One was to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team they should beat no mater the venue. Yes, they are a young team, but it still does not explain the bipolar nature of this team from a night-to-night basis. They need to focus and beat the teams they should and with how the Spurs have been playing, this is one of those games they should win.
The Spurs are coming into this game after a loss at home to the Clippers. That is a game they are supposed to lose of course and put them losing three of their last five games. They also lost to the Cavs but at home. The Spurs have been a streaky team that has not found their way this season.
In addition, these two teams met already this season on Tony Parker’s tribute night, and the Grizzlies took home the win in San Antonio 113-109. It was an off night for Morant, but the rest of the team carried the weight led by 24 points by Jaren Jackson Jr. They will need a full team effort and a little more from Morant for the Grizzlies to secure the win at home.
Here’s one big thing to watch for in tonight’s contest:
Jaren Jackson Jr. battling down low
The one aspect of this game that will determine a winner is who can control the paint. In their previous match-up, these two teams excelled down low with points in the paint. It was a point of emphasis for the Spurs, and LaMarcus Aldridge tried to take over the game in this way. Luckily, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jonas Valanciunas were able to combine for better games that was all Memphis needed on the road.
Tonight, this will be tested again. Valanciunas will have the head-to-head battle with Aldridge which sets up Jaren Jackson Jr to take advantage of his match-up against Trey Lyles. He has proven he can exploit this once, and tonight he hopefully can again.
This image actually exemplifies the point that the Grizzlies need to drive home to win this game. Jackson Jr. needs to stay down low and overpower Lyles while Valanciunas and Aldridge are fighting each other. Jaren Jackson Jr. should always win that head-to-head against Lyles. If Coach Taylor Jenkins can run the offense through Jaren, it will be a successful night for the Grizzlies.
With all that being said, I think the Grizzlies will continue to roll at home. They are a different team in front of their home crowd, and I think that continues tonight. Again, this match-up at the 4 position is a huge advantage to the Grizzlies. They will need to try and play through this.
In addition, I am not expecting Ja Morant to have a poor game again. Dejounte Murray is a handful defensively, but Morant has jumped up a level since their game in early November. Plus, he thrives off the Forum crowd. Look for him to have another big fourth quarter, and the Grizzlies take this one in close fashion.
Spread: Grizzlies +1
Take the Grizzlies plus the point or the Grizzlies’ money line.
Grizzlies- 113, Spurs- 107