Playoff Preview: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs

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 /

Fans will get a taste of the playoffs tonight as the seventh seed Memphis Grizzlies visit the San Antonio Spurs for the final time this season.

If the playoffs ended today, the Spurs would play the Grizzlies in the first round.

Ironically enough, the Spurs and the Grizzlies will get a taste of that matchup tonight as the Spurs will host the Grizzlies for the fourth and final time this season. Grizzlies lead the series 2-1.

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Although the Spurs are locked into the second seed in the Western Conference, the Grizzlies still have an opportunity to capture the sixth seed if they finish the season strong. The Oklahoma City Thunder currently have a 1.5 game lead.

Immediately following the Spurs game, the Grizzlies will travel back home to play the Thunder tomorrow night, in a game that will likely help decide the sixth and seventh seeds in the West. If the Grizzlies lose, they will be pushed to 2.5 games back of the sixth seed with three games left to play. If the Grizzlies win, they’ll cut the lead to just 0.5 games with three games remaining.

The Spurs, on the other hand, are just trying to get through these last couple of games, finding the ideal combination between staying healthy and maintaining continuity.

With a win tonight, the Spurs will reach 60 wins for the seventh time in franchise history.

Previous Matchups

There are very few teams in the NBA that consistently give the Spurs trouble, and the Grizzlies would be one of those teams. The Grizzlies have won two out of three matchups so far, and look to make it three out of four tonight.

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  • However, it is important to remember that the first game between these two teams did not include Kawhi Leonard, voiding the game in the eyes of most Spurs fans. The Grizzlies won that game at home, 89-74.

    No Spur had more than 15 points, and were led in points by David Lee, who had 14 points and three rebounds. The Grizzlies were led by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who had 15 points a piece.

    The second game was also in Memphis, where the Grizzlies won fair and square, 104-96. Leonard scored 22 points, along with seven rebounds and three assists. LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 21 points and nine rebounds. The Grizzlies had a balanced attack, as Gasol, Randolph, Vince Carter, JaMychal Green, Mike Conley and Troy Daniels all scored in the double-digits.

    The third game came in San Antonio, where the Spurs got their revenge, winning 97-90. Aldridge led the way with 23 points, and Leonard had 19 points of his own. Patty Mills and Tony Parker contributed 15 and 13 points, respectively. Conley and Gasol were the only Grizzlies scorers in double digits.

    Current Matchup

    Although this game is important in building confidence against a potential playoff matchup, both teams seem to be playing it safe regarding the health of their players.

    Spurs are an 8-point favorite tonight vs MEM.

    Out for MEM: Gasol, JaMychal, Parsons. Harrison is questionable.

    Out for SA: Danny, Murray

    — Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) April 4, 2017

    Although Gasol was estimated to return tonight against the Spurs, it seems like the Grizzlies are playing it safe, holding Gasol out instead. For the Spurs, Danny Green will miss his second straight game, and Dejounte Murray remains out.

    Outside of Green, the Spurs are planning to play their core players, as Gregg Popovich probably realizes that figuring out the Grizzlies defensively is vital to their playoff success.

    Leonard has struggled against the Grizzlies, as the defense of Tony Allen has made life difficult for him offensively. Leonard missed the first game, scored 22 points in the second game, and just 19 points in the most recent game. He has acknowledged that teams are beginning to double-team him, and only practice will make a more efficient player when being doubled.

    Kawhi Leonard is the only player in the NBA with more than 1,700 points and less than 150 turnovers this season.

    — Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) April 2, 2017

    This is also a big game for Parker, who will matchup against Conley, an elite, but very underrated point guard in the Western Conference. If the Spurs want to excel in the playoffs against elite point guards, Parker will have to step up his game, and be the Parker of old.

    Parker is coming off one of his best performances of the season on Sunday against the Utah Jazz, scoring 21 points on 7/15 shooting, including five assists and four rebounds.

    However, as I mentioned yesterday, that came against the Jazz backup point guards. Tonight is a much tougher matchup, as Conley is one of the best defensive guards in the NBA. With Gasol sitting out tonight’s game, it’s likely he’ll be more aggressive on the offensive end as well.


    If both teams were playing their starters, I would say this game would be a tough one to call. Since Gasol is missing this game with a foot injury, the advantage shifts to the Spurs.

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    Gasol is the Grizzlies best player, and arguably the best center in the NBA. Losing him negatively affects the Grizzlies ability to score, defend and rebound in the paint area.

    On the other hand, the Spurs are healthy, deep, and playing consistently on the offensive end. While it may not show up on the stat sheet, Leonard will benefit immensely from this game, understanding the types of schemes the Grizzlies want to throw at him.

    Don’t expect the starters to play heavy minutes tonight, as this game could get out of hand early without the services of Gasol. You can expect a heavy dose of Mills, Kyle Anderson, Jonathan Simmons, and Lee.

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    Leonard and Aldridge play limited minutes, limiting their overall production.

    The Spurs have four players in double figures (Leonard, Aldridge, Parker, Pau Gasol).

    Spurs win and tie the season series, 105-92.