After a successful 5 game home stand, the 12-2 Memphis Grizzlies take the NBA’s best record on the road to the 13-4 San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzlies lead the Spurs by a half game in the Southwest Division. This is the first of 4 meetings between the teams this season.San Antonio swept the 4 game season series last year between the teams.
Memphis has won 4 straight games, including 90-78 over the Detroit Pistons last night in Memphis. Both teams struggled on offense, as Detroit shot 40.3% from the field and Memphis was 40%. Both teams were 9/35 combined shooting in the fourth period, in an ugly 14-12 quarter won by Memphis. The Pistons had 46 rebounds to the Grizzlies’ 39. The biggest difference in the game was the Pistons had 22 turnovers and the Grizzlies had 12. Memphis forward Rudy Gay scored 18 points to lead all scorers. Center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley, Jr. each had 17 points for the Grizzlies. Darrell Arthur added 11 points, and guard Jerryd Bayless scored 10 points off the bench for the Grizzlies.
Going into Thursday night’s game at the Miami Heat, the San Antonio Spurs had won 5 straight games on a 6 game road trip. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich sent Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and Danny Greene back to San Antonio before the game. This didn’t sit too well with NBA commissioner David Stern who was attending the Nationally televised showcase game between two of the elite teams in the league. The NBA fined the Spurs $250,000. San Antonio was also without Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard who are both out indefinitely with injuries.
Despite this the Spurs still almost won the game. They led the game 98-93 with 2:14 to go, but Miami closed on a 12-2 run to win the game 105-100. Ray Allen hit a 3 pointer with 22.6 seconds left to give the Heat the lead for good. The Spurs shot 45% from the field including 10/31 from 3 point range.
Memphis is outscoring teams 99-90 this season. They lead the league in points allowed and are #10 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 44.5% from the field and 37.7% from 3 point range. Memphis is #2 in the league in free throw shooting at 80.9% from the line. The Grizzlies average 41.1 rebounds per game and give up 39.8. Memphis is #5 in rebounds allowed. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 43.1% from the field and 34.6% from 3 point range. Memphis is in the top 10 in both categories. The Grizzlies average 21.5 assists, 9.5 steals, 5.4 blocks and 14.1 turnovers a game.
Gay averages 19.1 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. Forward Zach Randolph averages 16.3 points, 12.6 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.5 assists per game. Gasol averages 15.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game to lead the team. Conley averages 15.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2.5 steals a game to lead the team in the latter two categories. Guard Tony Allen, forward Marreese Speights, Bayless, forward Quincy Pondexter, Guard Wayne Ellington and Arthur make up the rest of the rotation. Allen starts at shooting guard but is doubtful with a groin injury.
San Antonio is outscoring teams 102-96 this season. The Spurs are in the top ten in scoring and points allowed. San Antonio is shooting 47.9% from the field and 37.1% from 3 point range. The Spurs are #3 in field goal percentage. San Antonio makes 77% of their free throws. The Spurs are averaging 41.1 rebounds per game and give up 43.2 per game. San Antonio opponents are shooting 44% from the field and 32.1% from 3 point range. The Spurs are #3 in 3 point defense.. The Spurs average 24.5 assists, 8.1 steals, 4.9 blocks and 15.1 turnovers a game.
Duncan averages 18.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game. He leads the Spurs in scoring, rebounds and blocks. Parker averages 17.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 7.2 assists. Ginobli averages 11.8 points, 3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Point guard Gary Neal averages 10.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. Guard Danny Greene averages 10.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Forward Tiago Splitter, Center DeJuan Blair, and center Boris Diaw will also see a lot of time in the rotation.
The Grizzlies have improved a lot from last season and will look to beat the Spurs for the first time since Memphis upset San Antonio in the first round of the 2011 Western Conference playoffs. The Spurs will be in foul mood after being fined by the league. I think the tough and gritty Grizzlies pull out a close win on the road though.