The floundering San Antonio Spurs are set to host the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies at home Wednesday in a crucial matchup to regain their form.
If you had asked me about this game before the season started, I would have guaranteed a win. Unfortunately, a lot can change in one month and a victory looks like anything but a gimme for San Antonio.
While the Spurs cling for dear life to a .500 record right outside the playoff picture, the 11-5 Grizzlies have surprised the NBA nation as they sit second in the Western Conference standings. The results have been far from early expectations, but San Antonio must shake off the rust to stay competitive.
The six-time All-Star has been ridiculously good when the Spurs win. He’s also been unbelievably terrible when they lose.
That would be just fine if the Spurs were steamrolling through their schedule, but they’re not. San Antonio can’t afford LA to continue his infuriating inconsistency, and too often a win or a loss has been directly determined by his erratic play.
Though Aldridge has been disappointing thus far, fellow superstar DeMar DeRozan has been everything Spurs fans hoped for and more. In fact, his impressive 2018-2019 per game averages have only been matched by three former league MVPs.
Only four players are averaging at least 24-6-6 this season. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and DEMAR DEROZAN. San Antonio’s star is in some royal company. #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/gDNfljNPyX
— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) November 21, 2018
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DeRozan is performing like a top ten player right now and San Antonio will surely place a heavy load upon his shoulders tonight. No one has been able to deny DeMar from finding his spots, but Memphis won’t make it easy for the shooting guard to score.
The grit and grind Grizzlies are the top scoring defense in the NBA and the Spurs haven’t been the best at putting up points in a hurry. Ball movement, communication, and cutting down on turnovers are the keys to kickstarting what has been a stagnant offense.
With that in mind, defense is where the Spurs must truly reel it in. The underrated duo of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are dangerous as ever and head coach J. B. Bickerstaff has Memphis running like a well-oiled machine.
Despite the early success, Memphis lacks a high-powered offense. Though I realize San Antonio has been uncharacteristically flimsy on the other side of the ball, tonight would be a great opportunity to lock down an offensively challenged team.
Stopping the Grizzlies starts with disrupting Gasol and Conley, but containing the rest of the roster is equally important. Fourth overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr. has been better than advertised and former Spurs Kyle Anderson and Garrett Temple are essential pieces to their attack.
Though it might come as a surprise, this matchup may become the battle of the benches. San Antonio and Memphis are 15th and 16th respectively in bench scoring, and both organizations rely heavily on their second units to supplement their starters.
Don’t anticipate another high-scoring affair when these two divisional rivals take the court. Unless things get out of hand, this should be a game that goes down to the wire.
Although they’re a relatively even match on paper, the Spurs are desperate to avoid a losing record. And that just might be the extra push they need to get going.
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Viewing details for the game are below:
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 21Time: 7:30 p.m. CSTLocation: San Antonio, TXVenue: AT&T CenterTV Info: FSSW-SA, FSSE-MEMLive Stream: FuboTV