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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies

Kyle Anderson returns to San Antonio for the first time since signing with the Grizzlies.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs had a lot of turnover this summer, with as many players being traded and leaving via free agency as at any time in the Popovich Era. Kyle Anderson will be the first of these players to return to the AT&T Center. Anderson’s role in Memphis is similar to the role he played in San Antonio. He’s still reluctant to let it fly from deep, and he’s still a net negative on offense but a net positive on defense. He’s struggled with efficiency this season, but is still averaging 5.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.5 steals in nearly 28 minutes a game. I miss watching Anderson’s unconventional game, and I look forward to seeing him back in San Antonio, if only for a night.

November 21th, 2018 | 7:30 CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI
Spurs (8-8) at Grizzles (11-5)

Injury report

San Antonio Spurs
Dejounte Murray (Out Indefinitely - Knee), Lonnie Walker IV (Targeting December Return - Knee), Pau Gasol (Day to Day - Foot), Davis Bertans (Questionable - Concussion Protocol)

Memphis Grizzlies
Dillon Brooks (Targeting Late December Return - Knee), Chandler Parsons (Out Indefinitely - Knee)

The Grizzlies are healthy once again

The Grizzlies have always been riddled with talent, but their core group has struggled with health the past couple seasons. Now healthy, and with help from rookie sensation Jaren Jackson Jr., the Grizzlies have come out of hibernation and are looking to continue feasting on unsuspecting opponents. Currently they find themselves in second place in the Western Conference, only a half game back of the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Spurs are not healthy

In addition to Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker, Pau Gasol remains out and Davis Bertans is questionable. I’m not too upset about older Gasol missing this one, as Marc Gasol has dominated the majority of their matchups the past couple seasons. I am, however, starting to get a bit worried about the longterm prognosis of older Gasol’s foot. Bad feet and big men (especially older big men) makes me very nervous. Gasol the elder is overpaid even when healthy, so when not healthy, it makes me long for those senior discounts Tim Duncan gave to the Spurs in the twilight of his career. In truth, older Gasol has been one of the best players for the Spurs this season so it would be great to see him back in the lineup. Jakob Poeltl has slowly began showing flashes of belonging on an NBA court, but Pau’s playmaking skills off the bench have been sorely missed.

Will the real LaMarcus Aldridge please stand up

LaMarcus Aldridge is shooting 39% from the field in November. That level of inefficiency is enough to make Allen Iverson consider practicing. Every time Aldridge puts up a monster game and we think he has turned the corner, he strings together a few duds. He’s getting to his spots on the floor, so hopefully the shots start to fall. The Spurs aren’t going anywhere without the 2017-2018 version of Aldridge, so it might be a good idea to continue feeding Aldridge until he finds his rhythm again. He’s doing a lot of the dirty work, so reward him on the other end.

By the numbers

Statistic Spurs Grizzlies Advantage
Statistic Spurs Grizzlies Advantage
Offensive Rebounds 11.6 7.8 Spurs
FT% 81.4 74.8 Spurs
Total Rebounds 45.4 38.9 Spurs
Fouls 18.7 22.3 Spurs
Offensive Rating 108.7 106 Spurs
3P% 38.3 37.2 Neutral
Bench Points 37.6 37.1 Neutral
Assists 22.9 23.3 Neutral
Opp Points off Turnovers 15.6 16.4 Neutral
TS% 53.9 55.5 Neutral
FTA 22.8 24.8 Neutral
Points in the Paint 41.4 45.3 Neutral
Fastbreak Points 8.8 11 Grizzlies
Opp Points in the Paint 49.5 42.6 Grizzlies
Blocks 4.1 5.1 Grizzlies
Defensive Rating 109.4 102.8 Grizzles
Points off Turnovers 15.3 21.4 Grizzlies
Steals 9.8 6.4 Grizzlies

The Spurs defensive rating had been slowly improving the past couple weeks, but that rating took a shot of espresso after the New Orleans Pelicans dropped 140 in regulation. The Spurs defense is now back in the bottom-third of the league in terms of efficiency. The Grizzlies, going back to their grit and grind roots, have the second best defensive rating in the NBA.

The Grizzlies like to put pressure on their opponents, forcing nearly 18 turnovers a game and turning those turnovers into 21.4 points - both of these marks are near the top in the NBA. The Spurs still lead the NBA in fewest turnovers per game at only 12.3, but the timing of some of these turnovers have been extremely costly. The turnover battle will be something to watch as the game progresses, and could very well be the deciding factor in this one.

The Spurs are an above-average rebounding team, and they will need to use their advantage on the boards - specifically Aldridge - to limit the Grizzlies’ second chance opportunities and manufacture some on their own end. This is one of the few true advantages the Spurs have over the Grizzles, so hopefully Aldridge can continue crashing those boards.

Final thoughts

Similar to last season, the Spurs home/road splits are significant. Boasting a strong 6-2 record at home, I think the ability of the Spurs to limit turnovers helps overcome the strong defense of the Grizzlies, resulting in a close, and much needed, victory.

Vegas odds: Spurs by 2.5

Game Prediction: Spurs by 1 (tribute to Kyle Anderson)

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

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