San Antonio Spurs News

The San Antonio Spurs Are Seeking Revenge Tonight

Mar 18, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) drives against San Antonio Spurs forward Pau Gasol (16) at FedExForum. Memphis defeated San Antonio 104-96. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) drives against San Antonio Spurs forward Pau Gasol (16) at FedExForum. Memphis defeated San Antonio 104-96. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /
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The San Antonio Spurs will look to make it three straight wins tonight as they welcome the rival Memphis Grizzlies into the AT&T Center.

This is a very important game for the San Antonio Spurs, and it isn’t because they need a win to keep pace with the first seed Golden State Warriors. This game goes beyond the win-loss column.

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The Spurs haven’t beaten the Memphis Grizzlies this season. The only other team the Spurs have yet to beat is the New York Knicks, a team they will play on Saturday night.

The only difference? One team is 12th place in the Eastern Conference, and the other team is a potential first round playoff matchup.

The Spurs are 54-16, 2.5 games back of the Warriors for first place. The Grizzlies are 40-31, 1.0 game behind the six seed Oklahoma City Thunder. If the season ended today, the Spurs would draw the Grizzlies in the first round.

The result of tonight’s game will tell us whether or not this matchup is problematic for the Spurs. With a loss, the Grizzlies would improve to 3-0 against the Spurs. With a win, the Spurs would be 1-2 against the Grizzlies with one final matchup in San Antonio to go.

The first two games of this series weren’t very pretty.

Previous Matchups

The Spurs and the Grizzlies have played twice this season, with the Grizzlies winning both of those matchups on their home floor. It is worth noting, however, that Kawhi Leonard did not play in that first matchup against the Grizzlies.

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In the first matchup, the Spurs were shut down offensively without Leonard, posting their lowest point total since 2011, losing 89-74. The Spurs highest scorer was David Lee with 14 points. LaMarcus Aldridge had 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting, while Danny Green and Manu Ginobli pitched in 12 points each. The Grizzlies were led by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who both had 15 points. Mike Conley had 12 points and 9 assists.

The Spurs success is predicated on ball movement, and they managed just 11 assists in the first game.

In the second game, Leonard played, and led the Spurs in scoring with 22 points on 6-of-15 shooting, with seven rebounds and three assists. Aldridge poured in 21 points on 50% shooting, including nine rebounds and four assists.  Jonathan Simmons had 14 points off-the-bench, and the rest of the Spurs failed to hit double digits.

The Grizzlies had five scorers in double digits. Conley led them with 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Randolph had 18 points, and Gasol had 16 points.

Despite a tight 75-73 lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies were able to execute efficiently down the stretch, handing the Spurs another loss, 106-94.

Current Matchup

Although the record shows the Grizzlies are up 2-0 at this point in the season, the first game should be voided on account of Leonard’s inability to play.

The second matchup involved all major players, and the Grizzlies still outplayed the Spurs.

Tonight, it seems like both parties will have all of their main players.

INJURY REPORT – David Lee (sore left foot) is probable for tomorrow night's Spurs-Grizzlies game. Dejounte Murray (left groin) remains out. pic.twitter.com/gBmRnTipMK

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 23, 2017

Usually it’s the Spurs who hold their opponents under 100 points, but it’s actually the Spurs who have failed to reach that threshold against the Grizzlies this season. Given their shaky starts recently, it’s not a guarantee the Spurs score 100 points tonight, either.

Post All-Star break the Spurs are scoring 99.8 Pp/100 in 1Qs.

That's a number below the worst offense in the league of PHI (100.3)

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 22, 2017

Slow starts increase in probability when you are facing an elite defensive team, which the Grizzlies happen to be. In terms of defensive efficiency, the Grizzlies rank fifth in the NBA, while the Spurs rank first. In terms of points per game, the Grizzlies allow their opponents to score 100.3 points per game, third in the NBA. The Spurs come in second at 98.6 points per game.

The Spurs tend to struggle mightily in the first quarter, to which the Grizzlies are holding their opponents to 24.6 points first quarter points, third in the NBA. As far as protecting the paint, the Grizzlies allow just 38.0 points down-low, first in the league.

Both teams have stellar defenses, which explains the low scoring affairs that have happened so far this season. The winner of this game is the team who plays more efficiently offensively.

Prediction

The Spurs may never admit it, but they are very aware that they have lost two games against the Grizzlies, and are treating this game incredibly seriously.

With a potential playoff matchup looming, the Spurs cannot afford to give the Grizzlies the mental satisfaction of three regular season victories, including a win in San Antonio. That kind of victory can do wonders for a team’s confidence going forward.

The Spurs' winning percentage vs. teams that are .600 & above: 85% SA's winning percentage vs. teams below .500: 83%

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 23, 2017

However, I believe the Spurs recognize the importance of this game, and come out with one of their best performances of the season.

Leonard has been quiet scoring the ball as of late, and it’s only a matter of time before he explodes for another 30-point performance. Especially when you consider the recent resurgence of Aldridge, who has been much more aggressive scoring the ball since returning from injury.

Since the attention cannot be solely on Leonard anymore, this opens things up for him. Plus, David Lee is expected to play, elevating the firepower coming off the bench for Gregg Popovich.

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The Spurs find a way to win this game, holding the Grizzlies to under 100 points this time around.

Leonard and Aldridge have 25 points each.

Spurs win, 102-95.

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