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Game Preview: Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies

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Energized by the addition of backup point guard Mario Chalmers, the Memphis Grizzles come to San Antonio Saturday night.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
November 21, 2015, 7:30 p.m. Spurs Time
TV: FSSW Radio: 1200 AM WOAI

The Memphis Grizzlies pretty much stood pat over the summer of 2015. They had a strong core of returning veterans, but but they failed to address the critical issue that had been keeping them from advancing to the top levels of the Western Conference, which is shooting.  In an evolving NBA game where the best teams could extend defenses to the perimeter, the Grizz felt they could continue to be competitive with their signature Grit-and-Grind style of play. They felt that they could use Mike Conley's quickness to get the ball inside to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and punish the smaller teams in the west with their bigs. They could hold teams to low scores with their tenacious defense, and pull out close wins at the buzzer by ruling the paint.

They were like Michael Douglas in Wall Street 2.  They still had the giant Motorola brick phone while everyone else was carting around smart phones.  It was looking like the league had passed them by, as they got off to a slow 3-6 start, punctuated by a crushing 50 point loss at the Golden State Warriors on November 2. Although the starters were able to keep pace with most teams, they couldn't keep up with the faster pace of the West's elite teams.  It was time to make a change, perhaps a drastic one.

Enter Mario Chalmers:

So, obviously, the thing that Coach David Joerger and GM Chris Wallace did was a swap of backup point guards with the Miami Heattrading former Spur Beno Udrih for Heat PG Mario Chalmers in a salary dump for the Heat to save on luxury tax. (Jarnell Stokes and James Ennis were also involved in the deal.)

The initial reaction to the trade was pretty underwhelming in the press, since Chalmers' career had been somewhat stagnant in Miami the last couple of years. At Kansas, he sank the last second shot to propel his team to win the national championship game over Memphis in 2008. He was drafted by the Timberwolves and sent to the Heat in a draft day deal. While he showed flashes of brilliance with the Heat, he didn't always fit seamlessly with the superstars on the team and there were occasional ... incidents ... where they didn't seem to get along.  His talent was undeniable, but his confidence and decision making were inconsistent.

Sometimes all someone needs is a change of scenery.  At the time of this writing Chalmers has been with the Grizzlies for only four games, but Memphis has won all of them. It's always great to find a place where you belong, and it looks like Mario has found it. I'm happy for the kid.  At Grizzly Bear Blues, they are already taking note of how his shooting and quickness have improved the play of the second team, and reduced the burden on Mike Conley to carry the team. It's probably too early to tell, but it looks like the Grizzlies are back on track to be a contender in the west.  Just in time for the first meeting with the Spurs.

Predictions:

Tim Duncan should continue to dominate Zach Randolph as he has recently, and Lamarcus Aldridge should be able to match up well against Gasol.  Tony Parker is going to have a hard time containing Mike Conley but he should get some defensive help from Kawhi since Tony Allen isn't that much of a threat on offense.  Patty Mills is going to have issues containing Chalmers so Kyle Anderson might get some burn with the Spurs backups to use his length on Mario if he can stay out of Pop's doghouse. Boris Diaw should have a big night against the not-so-mobile Memphis bigs.

San Antonio Spurs (9-3)

Memphis Grizzlies (7-6)

November 21, 2015

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

7:30 PM CST

TV: FSSW

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

Mike Conley

Danny Green

SG

Courtney Lee

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Tony Allen

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Zach Randolph

Tim Duncan

C

Marc Gasol

Game prediction: Spurs by 6.

For the Grizzlies fans' perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues.

As always, Tony must dominate Fisher.