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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies

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The Spurs kick off February with a rematch against the Grizzlies.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs looked a little tired on Saturday night against the Grizzlies, something that Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff seemed to also be aware of. After a big win on Friday night against a very good Denver Nuggets team that turned into a dog fight in the second half, no Spur played more than Dejounte Murray’s 27 minutes in the SEGABABA against Memphis. Not even the return of Derrick White (who led the team in scoring in his first game since January 1st) could galvanize San Antonio to a victory, though they were able to get it to within 5 with under 4 minutes to go in the game before finally fading.

Memphis, meanwhile, left the AT&T Center with their 6th consecutive win, but it was their first game in 12 days after having 5 games postponed due to health and safety protocols related to COVID-19. For much of the night, they looked like a team that hadn’t missed a beat, shooting 56% from the floor and 49% from beyond the arc on their way to putting up 129 points.

For their rematch tonight, the Spurs will come in with what should be a confident and fresh Derrick White, fresher legs for the team as a whole, and a familiarity with a Grizzlies team that was able to shoot 56% from the field against them in the first match-up of this 2-game set.

Memphis Grizzlies (8-6) vs San Antonio Spurs (11-9)

February 1, 2021 | 7:30 PM CT

Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM

Spurs Injuries: None

Grizzlies Injuries: Jaren Jackson Jr - Out (Knee), Justice Winslow - Out (Hip), Jonas Valanciunas - Out (Covid-19 Protocols), Grayson Allen - Out (Covid-19 Protocols), Jontay Porter - Out (Knee), Killian Tillie (Day-to-Day), Sean McDermott (Day-to-Day)

What to watch for

  • Saturday night’s game against Memphis was only the 2nd game Derrick White has played in all season as he’s dealt with a variety of foot injuries. White played about as well as one could hope for after missing so much time already this season, leading the Spurs in scoring with 18 in only 21 minutes of action. It was White’s 3 pointer that helped to pull the Spurs to within 5 towards the end of the game before the wheels ultimately fell off.
  • The Memphis offense was firing on all cylinders Saturday night. They shot a scorching 56% from the field as a team, racked up 34 assists, and displayed an extremely balanced attack on offense. 7 Memphis players scored at least 14 points for the Grizzlies on Saturday night, led by 20 points from De’Anthony Melton and Ja Morant’s double-double of 19 points and 11 assists.
  • While the Grizzlies’ entire shot chart was problematic for the Spurs after the game, the numbers in the paint point towards a complete breakdown of their interior defense. Memphis shot 28/45 (62%) in the paint throughout the course of the game on their way to 56 points in the paint. Most strong team defense stems from how well a team protects the rim. A tougher showing on the interior could go a long way towards splitting this two-game set with Memphis.
  • DeMar DeRozan followed up one of his best games of the season against the Nuggets with one of his more forgettable ones. DeRozan finished with 5 points to go along with a rebound and an assist, taking only 6 shots in his 25 minutes on the floor. The Spurs are a better team when DeRozan is aggressively looking for his shot. Knowing DeRozan, he’ll be looking to bounce back.

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

As always, PtR’s Game Thread will be up on the site 30 minutes before tip-off for all who wish to follow along with the game on here!