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Game 1 Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies

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Call it a four-game tune-up if you want, but the Spurs can still count on a few body blows from the hard-nosed Grizzlies before it's all said and done. Their first-round matchup -- and the Chase for Seis -- starts tonight.

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Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Date: 4/17/16, Time: 6:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: TNT - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

No Marc Gasol or Mike Conley. 28 players in uniform through 82 games. Lance Stephenson. These aren't the elements you'd expect to compose a winning season, but somehow the Memphis Grizzlies found a way. And if it weren't for a dreadful finish to the year (losing 10 of their last 11), they would've likely ended higher than the seven seed.

But here they are, a team relying on names like Xavier Munford and Jarell Martin playing into late April. No matter how this series turns out, the Grizzlies have put together one of the unlikeliest postseason runs in recent memory. And despite being the biggest of first-round underdogs, there are a handful of guys in Memphis uniforms that will go to great lengths to steal a game or two from San Antonio.

We buried the 'grit and grind' Grizzlies narrative when Zach Randolph was moved to the bench in favor of a stretch 4 lineup earlier this year, but that spirit has persisted through the team's resilience. They can thank guys like Randolph and Tony Allen for keeping that fire burning, but their roster on the whole is made up of players who will see tonight's Game 1 as a chance to sock the Spurs in the mouth -- only figuratively, hopefully.

A couple of years back, the Spurs began a championship run by facing a first-round opponent many also considered categorically overmatched. Those Mavericks ended up extending the series to seven games and giving San Antonio some real scares. The only other similarity between that team and these Grizzlies is 39-year-old Vince Carter, who got his invite to the Derek Fisher Society when he beat the Spurs on this last-second heave:

But that team had Dirk Nowitzki and renowned alchemist/Felton-whisperer Rick Carlisle. It also had far more talent and experience on the roster than what Dave Joerger is working with, making it difficult to foresee anything but the Spurs advancing to the next round in what many predict will be a sweep.

Memphis will want this series to be fought in the trenches, with scrappy play around the basket, plenty of 50-50 opportunities, and any other trope you can use to outline how an unlikely 7-seed could beat a 67-win 2-seed. They don't have a roster that's particularly built to run, but they'll need to seek out any potential advantage and execute well across the board if they're to win -- especially in the AT&T Center where the Spurs have been pretty good.

Ultimately the Spurs should be prepared to absorb some physicality and the occasional Grizzlies flurry. San Antonio's had Z-Bo's number for years now, and it'll take some uncharacteristically hot shooting from the visiting team to upset in Game 1.

Key to winning: The injury imp has shadowed the Grizzlies all year like something out of It Follows or Drag Me to Hell. With a likely matchup against Oklahoma City looming in the second round, keeping that specter from changing benches should be goal 1B to outscoring the other guys. Here's hoping for some progress on the health front from LaMarcus Aldridge and Boris Diaw.

vs

San Antonio Spurs

(Playoffs record: 0-0)

Memphis Grizzlies

(Playoffs record: 0-0)

April 17, 2016

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

7:00 PM CDT

TV: TNT

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

Jordan Farmar

Danny Green

SG

Vince Carter

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Matt Barnes

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Zach Randolph

Tim Duncan

C

Chris Andersen

Game prediction: Spurs by 14.

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

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

As always, PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. But if you're not able to log in here, you can try the Fanvana app which helps connect sports fans and was created by a fellow Spurs fan. Check out the free app on iOS or Android to discover other Spurs fans and join the live chatter for tonight's game. You can follow PtR's tweet stream directly on Fanvana as the game unfolds.