Opponent Insight: Memphis Grizzlies Q&A With Nathan Grubel

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Dec 17, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21, R) gestures as he talks with Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) during overtime at AT&T Center. The Grizzlies won 117-116 in triple overtime. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Western Conference battle between the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs, we caught up with our friends over at Beale Street Bears to discuss the action ahead.

After their 25 point victory over the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night, the San Antonio Spurs are headed into the Fed Ex Forum to take on the Grizzlies.

The Spurs have been successful in recent years against Memphis. In their first meeting, the Spurs were led by Kawhi Leonard whom scored 19 points. Manu Ginobili returned from a two-game absence to come off the bench to score 15 points.

In that game, the Spurs manage to contain the Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol. Tuesday night, Gasol scored a career-high 38 points in a 113-104 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Ahead of the action tonight, we spoke to Memphis Grizzlies Writer Nathan Grubel to find out how he feels about the Grizzlies chances of winning tonight.

Nathan writers about the Grizzlies over at Fansided’s Beale Street Bears. You can follow him on Twitter at: @The_Only_Grubes.

Lets dive into what he had to say about tonights matchup.

Next: Are you surprised by the start of the Grizzlies?

Nov 29, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger reacts to a call during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Phiadelphia 92-84. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Rehome: Are you surprised by the start of the Memphis Grizzlies this season?

Nathan Grubel: I certainly didn’t expect them to get off to that miserable 3-6 start that they did getting blown out by Cleveland and Golden State. Now that the team has found its legs a little bit going 8-2 over its last 10, I’m starting to see the Grizzlies team I expected from the start.

Next: Is the Grizzlies bench an important piece?

Nov 16, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers (6) during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Oklahoma City 122-114. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

MR: In the first meeting, the Grizzlies saw their bench outscore the Spurs, 38 to 27. Are they an important piece to this team?

NG: The bench is essential to the Grizzlies winning games. Memphis has one of the older teams in the league so depth is crucial for giving some of the older guys rest. Mario Chalmers has been a revelation in the second unit since the Grizzlies traded for him.

Next: How will the team respond with LaMarcus Aldridge in the lineup?

Nov 20, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) and center Tim Duncan (21) against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

MR: LaMarcus Aldridge was not available in the first meeting. How do you think the team will respond with him in the Spurs lineup?

NG: Aldridge presents a difficult challenge for the Grizzlies because of his ability to step out and shoot the basketball. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol aren’t the most mobile of big men, so having one of them chase a perimeter big can be counter productive at times. Look for Memphis to keep experimenting with smaller lineups and letting Jeff Green float outside with some of the Spurs’ bigger shooters.

Next: What will be the most important match-up in this game?

Dec 30, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) is fouled by San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) during the game at FedExForum. Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 95 – 87. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

MR: This game will have many match-ups. Which do you feel is going to be the most important?

NG: This game will be all about Gasol and Tim Duncan. Whichever center can keep the other one in check, control the boards and protect the rim more efficiently will greatly determine the outcome of this game.

Next: How important is Mike Conley's play?

Nov 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) brings the ball up the court during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Rockets 102-93. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

MR: How important is Mike Conley’s play for the Grizzlies?

NG: Mike Conley is the Grizzlies most important player by far. No one else on the team can handle the ball and penetrate the defense like he does. He’s the quarterback of the offense who sets everything in motion. If Memphis keeps winning and Conley continues to shoot the ball well from three-point range and score 20+ points per game he could enter himself into the MVP conversation.

Next: What are your final thoughts?

May 9, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) and Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the game against the Golden State Warriors in game three of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at FedExForum. Memphis Grizzlies beat Golden State Warriors 99-88. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

MR: What do you think the final outcome of this battle will be? And whom has to step up for the Grizzlies?

NG: Gasol and Conley will have to be huge for the Grizzlies to win this one, and Green will have to limit his turnovers and poor shot selection to be a difference off the bench. I think San Antonio’s depth is just too much this time around though. I have the Spurs winning 102-96 over the Grizzlies.

Next: Spurs look to contain Gasol and Grizzlies

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