The Spurs will win if: They can force anybody except Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to beat them. Between them, they average 31.9 points, 19.7 rebounds and six assists per game.
A large reason why the Grizzlies are fifth in adjusted offensive rating is because they attempt 38.7 shots per game inside of nine feet, made possible by their frontcourt duo. Though Memphis isn’t the 3-point shooting albatross they once were — improving their percentage to 37.7 percent, eighth, from 32.6 percent last season, 25th — shooting from the perimeter remains sparingly utilized.
Wayne Ellington and Quincy Pondexter have replaced the holes previously filled by Mike Miller, Shane Battier and O.J. Mayo. But wouldn’t you still prefer if they took more shots than usual?
The Spurs will lose if: Memphis’ deep wing rotation pieces outplays the limited wing corps of San Antonio. (There is a small chance Kawhi Leonard returns from a quadriceps injury, however.) Along with an articulate offensive attack and an opportunistic defense, creating a turnover 16.2 percent of the time, the Grizzlies are more than equipped to best the Spurs on the road.
X-Factor: There is perhaps no more polarizing player than Tony Allen in terms of on-court production. His offensive numbers, which have never been strong in the first place, are near or already at career lows. In terms of true shooting percentage and offensive rating, Allen is producing his most inefficient season to date. Player efficiency rating (PER) concurs, with his 2007-08 season being only slightly less productive. Already a poor offensive player, Allen has made 16.7 percent of his shots from mid-range and beyond according to NBA.com/Stats.
And yet Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins has started Allen in 13 of 14 games this season. (Allen missed last night’s game against Detroit with a sore right groin.)
On court/off court numbers paint a different picture. Memphis is actually a better offensive team with Allen, scoring 107.3 points per 100 possessions and shooting at a 49.1 effective field goal percentage (accounts for value of 3-pointers). Their efficiency falls to a below league average 101.6 otherwise.
Defensively, the reigning first-team All-Defender’s forte, the Grizzlies allow 92.6 points per 100 possessions with Allen. The offense, meanwhile, isn’t affected too much since Allen isn’t a high usage guy to begin with. Pairing Allen with four highly skilled offensive players has yielded tremendous results for Hollins thus far and should continue to do so.