WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/NBA League Pass/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Out, ankle), John Konchar (Out, ankle), Yves Pons (Out, thigh), Brandon Clarke (Questionable, eye)
SAN ANTONIO: Romeo Langford (Questionable, groin), Doug McDermott (Questionable, knee)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
SAN ANTONIO: Dejounte Murray, Devin Vassell, Keita Bates-Diop, Keldon Johnson, Jakob Poeltl
Just eight days ago, Dejounte Murray and Ja Morant were sharing one of the biggest stages in sports as both players were experiencing their All-Star Game, respectively. Even better, they did it as teammates. The experience is likely something neither player will every forget.
Fast forward to tonight, and both All-Stars get back to what earned each of them the honor: being two of the best point guards in the NBA. If you need proof as to why this claim is the honest truth instead of a hot take, simply take a look at the last time Morant and Murray played each other and the last game each played overall:
From the Grizzlies 118-110 win over the Spurs on 1/26/2022-
Morant: 41 points 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals
Murray: 16 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 2 steals
From each player’s last game played:
Morant (2/26): 46 points, 4 Rebounds, 3 assists
Murray (2/25): 31 points, 14 assits, 13 rebounds
Without a doubt, both Morant and Murray have been two of the most productive players in the NBA this season. And though the Grizzlies may appear to be significantly better than the Spurs on paper, San Antonio certainly remains a tough task for anyone. Look at the fact that on back to back nights after the All-Star Break, the Spurs have scored 157 points and then 129 points (without Murray).
As he returns tonight (alongside Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl, all of whom sat our against the Heat recently) will that put the Spurs over the top?
Memphis hopes not. Here’s how to get there.
Staring down the mirror
Both the Grizzlies and the Spurs like to get out and run. But both Memphis and San Antonio do solid jobs protecting the basketball, not turning it over as often as most other teams in the NBA. San Antonio leads the league in turnovers per offensive play percentage, while Memphis is 4th. Meanwhile, the Spurs are 5th in the NBA in pace whereas the Grizzlies are 6th. Both teams love gaining extra possessions through their rate of play, and both love making sure those chances with the ball are valued.
But they also both believe in the value of “stocks”, or steals/blocks, to get there. The Grizzlies are 1st in the NBA in both of these areas, while the Spurs are in the top-10.
It’s like looking in a mirror to an extent, as both teams play somewhat similar styles - all the way down to the offensive rebounding (Memphis is first, San Antonio 7th) and poor free throw shooting (Spurs are 26th, Grizzlies 28th). But just about everything the Spurs do especially well, the Grizzlies can either do the same or do better. Whoever can punch through the mirror and grab hold of this game first will be the team that gets the W when the final horn sounds. Memphis is better equipped to do just that - after all, there’s a reason one team is top-5 in the NBA and the other will be in the Lottery in three months.
But the Grizzlies have to be “locked in” early and consistently - this Spurs team lost by 4 to Miami down multiple key contributors last time out. They’re not a typical lottery team.
Memphis is an 8.5 point favorite as of this writing. That feels quite lofty, especially when you consider the fact that San Antonio should have three starters back in the saddle for the Spurs in this one. The Grizzlies are the better team, and after their showing against the Bulls in Chicago it appears the post-All-Star malaise has lifted off of Ja Morant and company. But San Antonio covering as their own All-Star returns makes a lot of sense.
Memphis 119, San Antonio 112