Jan 11, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay (22) drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs point guard Gary Neal (14) during the game at the FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden–USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview : San Antonio Spurs (55-18) Memphis Grizzlies (49-24)

Game 73 finds the division leading San Antonio Spurs entering Memphis and taking on the team chasing them in the division standings.

Jan 16, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Stephen Jackson (3) drives to the basket during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies at the ATstandings. The Spurs enjoy a six game cushion on the season, and are looking to put the division in their pocket by grabbing this contest.

Things will not be easy for the visiting team.  The Grizzlies front court tandem, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, has presented as a difficult match-up for quite some time. No one can forget the historical, (at least for the Grizzlies) first round match-up two seasons ago, when the two pulverized the Spurs’ big men in a six game, first round tussle. With the addition of Tiago Splitter to the starting front court, the Spurs have swung the large disparity back toward themselves just a little bit.

The Grizzlies come into the game on the heels of Saturday’s solid 99-86 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis’s big three of Randolph, Gasol, and Conley combined for 54  of the Grizzlies 99 points on the way to victory. The Grizzlies have their eye not on the division, but on home court advantage in the first round, as they battle the Pacific Division leading Los Angeles Clippers and the red-hot Denver Nuggets for playoff positioning.

Memphis find themselves half a game behind Denver for the 3rd spot, and half a game ahead of the Clippers. This race will no doubt come down to the final day of the season. It may also lend a preview to a second round rematch against the Spurs if they grab the four spot and win their series.

The Spurs come in, on the second night of a back- to-back, after a heartbreaking 88-86 loss the short handed Miami Heat. The Spurs look to bounce back, and  again have to do it without the services of their 6th man ace, Manu Ginobili. Ginobili, who is recovering from a right hamstring strain, was characterized as “weeks not days” away from returning, according to head coach Gregg Popovich.

Kawhi Leonard against Miami did more than his part with a brilliant 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Spurs will need Danny Green and Tony Parker to shake-off the tough shooting, both went for a combined 8 of 28 against the vaunted Heat defense. Outside shooting is key versus the Grizzlies, their interior defense is always strong with the twin tower combo.

 Starting Lineups

 Point Guards
Tony Parker – Mike Conley

Shooting Guards
Danny Green – Tony Allen

 Small Forwards
Kahwi Leonard – Tayshaun Prince

Power Forwards
Tim Duncan- Zach Randolph

Centers
Tiago Splitter – Marc Gasol

Game Information
When : Monday, April 1st at 7:00 PM (Spurs time)
Where : FedEx Forum, Memphis Tennessee
Television: FSSW NBA TV    Radio: WOAI 1200 (local)

This will be a tall task for the Spurs to answer the night after a hard fought game against Miami in which the Spurs starters logged HEAVY minutes. Duncan played 35 along with Parker’s 36. Hopefully they will have enough in the tank to overcome another good defensive team. The rest will be short as after an off day Tuesday, they bounce back against Jacque Vaughn’s Orlando Magic, then the very next night the vaunted Oklahoma City Thunder, the team in the conference the Spurs hold the slimmest of margins over. After that its back home on Saturday against the scrappy Atlanta Hawks. With only 9 games remaining the Spurs need to not only get ready, get healthy, but seemingly get things straightened out for the playoffs. What better way to get on the right track with a win against Memphis.

For the Memphis Grizzlies perspective, head over to FanSided’s own BEALE STREET BEARS.

Tags: Kawhi Leonard Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan Zach Randolph

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