San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis GrizzliesAT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
January 16, 2013, 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
The San Antonio Spurs play their 41st game of the season, their halfway point, fittingly against a divisional rival in the Memphis Grizzlies. Despite the game being played at home where the Spurs have the best home record in the league, they will have to grit their teeth and survive another episode of Life Without Manu, as their Argentinian sixth man is out 10-14 days with a strained hamstring.
The last two times these two teams faced off, 48 minutes proved to be insufficient to decide the matter, as the Spurs took home the first meeting in San Antonio 99-95, in overtime, behind a vintage line of 27 points and 15 rebounds from Tim Duncan. The Grizzlies reciprocated by taking the second meeting in Memphis 101-98, with the Spurs spotting a 4 point deficit with eleven seconds remaining and Tony Parker hitting the game-tying 3 pointer. It is therefore assumed that the game will go to overtime again.
Nevertheless, the Grizzlies' recent win may have been a sort of Pyrrhic victory, as they proceeded to lose by double digits to the Dallas Mavericks (granted, it was their SEGABABA) and then drop a home game to the Chris Paul-less Los Angeles Clippers, also by double digits (though granted, Rudy Gay was out). The Spurs should therefore come out and play motivated; despite Duncan's slippage on the offensive end as of late, in his last game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he posted 11 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and a season-high 7 blocks; just 2 steals shy of a rare 5 by 5.
The Spurs, however, should try and take care of the ball as well as defend the midrange shot better if they want to stand the Grizzlies' grinding attack. Conley and Allen exult in scoring off turnovers, whilst Randolph and Arthur are adept at making midrange shots. Although the theory of giving up the midrange jumper in order to prevent scoring in the paint and beyond the 3 point line is in line with Gregg Popovich's fundamental approach to basketball, the Spurs take this approach maybe too zealously, as they tend to leave stretch bigs wide open. The problem is, nearly every team has a big man who can exploit this (even the Spurs, of course, with Duncan's evolution into a jump shooter) and in my opinion, that is the only problem of starting Duncan and Tiago Splitter, as their greatly increased inside defense is at the expense of lacking a quick big to cover stretch big men.
Grizzlies perspective can be found here: Straight Outta Vancouver
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Game Prediction: 48 minutes will not suffice once more, yet the Spurs' home court advantage allows them to take a tight match by 3 in overtime.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.