Fresh off a win in the Motor City, the San Antonio Spurs are headed to the Home of the Blues in hopes of repeating the same tune they’ve been singing for weeks now. Also home to one of their more nightmarish losses of the season (at least from an officiating standpoint), the Spurs will be looking to exact a bit of revenge against the Memphis Grizzlies (because home doesn’t count, and what the Spurs do on the road is a lot more telling these days than in the comfy confines of the AT&T Center).
San Antonio Spurs (27-14) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (18-22)
January 9, 2019 | 7:00 PM CT
Listen: WOAI | Watch: FSSW
Spurs Injuries: Dejounte Murray (torn ACL — out), Rudy Gay (sprained wrist — out)
Grizzlies Injuries: Dillon Brooks (toe soreness — day-to-day), Chandler Parsons (return from injury management — away from team indefinitely)
Singing the Grizzly Bear blues
In the summer of 2016, Parsons signed a 4-year/$94 million contract in Memphis with the goal of infusing some offense and outside shooting into the Grit-and-Grind Grizzlies. Since then, he has appeared in only 73 games (including three this season) due to constant knee issues while averaging just 7 points on 35% from three.
While “return from injury management” is listed as the official reason for his absence, it is now being reported that he and Memphis are parting ways due to irreconcilable differences. What are those differences, you ask? Just stuff like whether or not he’s ready to play, how and where he should rehab...nothing we Spurs fans haven’t heard before. (Side note: does this mean “return from injury management” should henceforth be read as code language for the team and player are at a potentially irreconcilable crossroad?)
Whether the Grizzlies front office can trade Parsons’s contract for useful assets to help get them back on track this season or have to wait until the summer to trade him (when there’s only one year left on his contract) remains to be seen, but suffice it to say his failure to boost the offense of a team that was already struggling to keep up with today’s NBA has done the Grizzlies no favors.
Now they are once again on the outside looking in, with few other options on the team that could bring new life to the Grit-and-Grind era, and we are left to ponder if the aging/injury-prone core of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley has already taken them as far as they’re going to go.
Meanwhile, in the Alamo City, the Spurs are headed in the opposite direction of their division rival. It goes without saying that after a slow start, the Spurs have picked things up (to put it mildly). It’s a small sample size, but perhaps their most important sign of improvement lately has been their performance on the road.
After barely losing to the league’s best team in Denver, they have since won in both Los Angeles and Detroit. While winning two games in a row on the road may not seem like a big deal, it’s the first time they’ve accomplished that feat this season, and more importantly they’ve looked comfortable doing it, handling adversity with ease when before they would have panicked.
The road was the Spurs’ worst enemy during last season’s struggle to make the playoffs (well, besides Uncle Dennis), and it started that way this season too. (They went just 5-12 away from the AT&T Center before their last two road wins.) If they win tonight, it will be the first time they have won three-straight games on the road in over 26 months (!!!), and that was by a franchise-record setting 2016-17 group that went 30-11 away from home.
It’s literally impossible to expect that record from the Spurs now (because math), but getting back up into .500 territory on the road shouldn’t be too difficult if they take care of business against teams they should beat. They’ve done exactly that during their last two road games, and hopefully they’ll do it again tonight, especially considering they’ll return home to face the Thunder on a SEGABABA tomorrow.
Vegas line: Spurs by 3
Game prediction: Spurs by 17 because of course
For the Grizzlies fans’ perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues.
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.