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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis rolls into town for their first game after the firing of David Fizdale.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Quick trivia: Three NBA teams currently have at least two players who have played the entirety of their careers with their team for at least a decade.

The first, of course, is the Spurs. Tony and Manu have 17 and 16 seasons respectively in San Antonio. Can you even imagine either of these guys in a Clippers or Celtics uniform? As it is, I always experience a strange “what is he wearing?” moment when I see either suit up for their national teams.

Then there’s Nick Collison (14 seasons) and Russell Westbrook (10 seasons) for the Thunder (née Supersonics).

Can you guess who’s third on the list?

San Antonio Spurs (13-7) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7-12)

November 29, 2017 | 7:30 PM CDT

Watch: FSSW, Listen: WOAI

Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps), Derrick White (fractured right wrist)

Grizzles injuries: Mike Conley (Achilles), Chandler Parsons (right knee), Wayne Selden Jr. (right quad), Brandan Wright (groin), David Fizdale (irreconcilable differences), Mario Chalmers (ankle- questionable)

Are you lonesome tonight

An immediate effect coming into tonight’s game will be the absence of David Fizdale. The former Miami Heat assistant coach got his first NBA head coaching position with Memphis in 2016. We’re just at the quarter mark in the season and Coach Fiz has been given his walking papers. For now, J.B. Bickerstaff has been handed the clipboard as interim head coach. Two years ago, he was interim coach in Houston after the Rockets fired Kevin McHale. He later withdrew his name from consideration for the full-time head coaching position and has been in Memphis ever since.

Heartbreak Hotel

After the impressive 3-0 start to the season upsetting the Pelicans, Warriors, and Rockets, Memphis leveled off before going ice cold. The Grizzlies are currently on an eight-game losing streak, losing Mike Conley to an Achilles injury. Despite sporting a career-worst field goal percentage in his eleven years in Memphis, the one-time highest-paid player in the NBA makes an impact on this squad that cannot be overstated. He’s currently their third-best scorer, second-best assist man, and he maintains an extremely low turnover ratio for so much time handling the ball. The starting lineup suffers greatly when Conley is unavailable, and this season the wear-and-tear is showing early.

In his absence, the Grizzlies have pulled Mario Chalmers out of mothballs. Fresh off a year of not being signed after his own Achilles injury, Chalmers is steering the ship again for the first time since March of 2016. Even his ability to play tonight has been updated to questionable due to an ankle injury. Is this the same guy even Obama clowned a few years back? Either way, his 8.7 points and 22.4% from beyond the arc aren’t likely to be a formidable threat to the Spurs defense. The Grizzlies backcourt is thin with no immediate signs of beefing up before playing San Antonio twice in a row.

Don’t be cruel

JaMychal Green made his way to Memphis via the D-League Austin Toros/Spurs. After a solid showing at Summer League, Green moved to Austin until Memphis called him up for a pair of 10-day contracts before signing him full time. Green started 2016 coming off the bench until their injury-laden year (28 players made the roster that year) moved him into a starting position. Although he was outmaneuvered by All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge in the first round of the playoffs, his strength, stamina, and youth (as well as ZeBo’s departure) earned him a $16.4M/two-year contract. He’s currently 4th in scoring and 3rd in rebounding for the ailing Grizzlies squad. But Green still lacks experience, and when Aldridge smells blood he goes to the hoop. Even the savviest of defenders prematurely leave their feet for LMA pump fakes. Expect Green’s NBA indoctrination to continue as Aldridge schools him on the finer points of being a power forward:

This matchup is key to the Grizzlies’ game. With the Spurs expected to win the backcourt battles, the frontcourt combination of Gasol (Marc, not Pau), Green (JaMychal, not Danny), and Tyreke Evans is essential to Memphis competing for 48 minutes.

Trivia recap: So if you haven’t figured it out yet, Mike Conley is in his 11th season with the Grizzlies and Marc Gasol is in his 10th after being drafted and traded to Memphis for none other than his brother Pau. Take THAT for data.

Vegas Odds: San Antonio by 8.

Game Prediction: Spurs by 11.

For the Grizzlies fan’s perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues.

As always, Tony must dominate Fisher.

PtR's GameThread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR's Twitter feed.