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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies

The Spurs look to stay hot as they welcome the slumping Grizzlies to the Alamo City.

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

The slumping Memphis Grizzlies travel to San Antonio tonight to take on the red-hot San Antonio Spurs. Memphis will travel to the Alamo City for the final time this season after the the Grizzlies escaped with a 104-103 win last time. Memphis hasn’t been playing well recently, losing nine of their last eleven games including a 109-100 loss to the Brooklyn Nets last night. Their leading scorer is Mike Conley at 19.9 PPG, but he has been dealing with a shoulder injury recently. Conley started against Brooklyn but the shoulder had been hampering his play, including shooting 0-8 against the Pistons on Wednesday. Marc Gasol is the second-leading scorer behind Conley averaging an even 16 PPG, and promising rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. is averaging 13.3.

January 5th, 2019 | 7:30 CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI
Spurs (22-17) vs Grizzlies (18-20)
Injury Report:

San Antonio Spurs: Dejounte Murray (torn right ACL)

Memphis Grizzlies: Chandler Parsons (return from injury management)

This will be the 93rd all-time regular season meeting between the Spurs and the Grizzlies. San Antonio currently leads the series 69-23 and hopes to collect their 70th win in the regular season series in the AT&T Center. San Antonio is 16-5 at home this season but one of those five losses came at the hand of these Grizzlies. It was a game that went down to the wire, but a late foul call on Rudy Gay and an inexplicable no call on Marc Gasol preserved a one point win for the Beale Street Boys.

San Antonio comes into the meeting having won seven of their last ten games including Thursday night’s big win over Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors. San Antonio is coming off a solid December where they were the West’s best team in net rating with a plus 10.2, and where they led the NBA in shooting accuracy at every spot on the floor that you can shoot from. San Antonio’s offense has looked similar some of the classic Silver and Black teams, with crisp ball movement and great floor spacing. The Spurs averaged 115.6 points over the month of December, which is up a full 10 points per game from the 105.6 the Spurs averaged in the month of November.

Defensively, the Spurs have started to get into the swing of things. Their rotations have been more timely than they were at the beginning of the season. The improvement is notable from month to month. In the month of November the Spurs allowed 111.6 PPG, but in the month of December, San Antonio lowered that number to 105.3 PPG. Getting as healthy as they could get obviously played a large role in the improvement from month to month.

While everything might suggest it, the team hasn’t just gotten exponentially better over the last month. While they have improved a lot in that time period, it should also be of note how much better the Spurs have been when Derrick White is on the floor. White has brought a brand new element to this basketball team with his lockdown defense on one end, and he has been brilliant in facilitating the offense on the other end. White has shown the capability to guard the best guard on the opposing team, but he has also been able to check wing players on the other team. White was the primary defender on Kawhi Leonard on Thursday night and did a fantastic job.

While it’s early to look ahead, the Spurs are going to have a brilliant young backcourt when Dejounte Murray returns next season. Both are exceptional defenders, and both are showing growth offensively quicker than expected.

As for a prediction for the game against Memphis, it’s impossible to pick against the Spurs right now, especially when they’re at home. Demar Derozan and Lamarcus Aldridge have continued to dominate, and the shooters for the Spurs have been knocking down deep shots like Matt Bonner racking up the score at a Pop-a-Shot. Combining that with the continued struggles of the Memphis Grizzlies, I think that the Spurs get another big win at home before hitting the road.

Vegas Odds: TBD

Game Prediction: Spurs by 16

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.