Things have not come easy for the San Antonio Spurs on their seven-game losing streak. The young team has taken it’s lumps along the way, but is starting to look better in some close losses to good teams like the Sacramento Kings and Miami Heat. On the second game of a back to back, the Spurs have a chance to get back into the win column at home.
They’ll do so against another struggling squad. The Memphis Grizzlies have won just two games this season, hamstrung by injuries and suspensions to key players. They’ll be without key rotation pieces like Ja Morant, Steven Adams, Brandon Clarke, Marcus Smart and Xavier Tillman as they travel to San Antonio. The Spurs have been similarly banged up over their last three games. The two injury hampered squads will try to get closer to the .500 mark on Saturday night.
San Antonio Spurs (3-9) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (2-9)
November 18, 2023 | 7 P.M. CT
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI/KXTN
Spurs injuries: Are not required to reveal injury report until 1 p.m. on November 18
Grizzlies injuries: Steven Adams – Out (right knee,) Brandon Clarke – Out (left achilles,) GG Jackson – Out (G League,) Luke Kennard – Out (left knee,) Ja Morant – Out (suspension,) Derrick Rose – Questionable (left knee,) Marcus Smart – Out (left foot,) Xavier Tillman – Out (left knee)
What to watch for
A defensive advantage?
The Spurs have not been a great defensive team this year. They are 29th in the league in defensive rating at 119.7. They’ve given up over 115 points in all eight of their losses over the course of this losing streak. On Saturday, they’ll be tasked with guarding a less-than-stellar Grizzlies offense. Memphis is 29th in the league in offensive rating, at 106.3.
Memphis is missing many of it’s key offensive cogs. They will rely on guys like Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. to initiate the majority of their offense. Besides those two, no available players on the roster are averaging over 10 points a game. Nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, but the Grizzlies will pose a significantly weaker offensive threat than the Spurs have faced in the last 10 games.
Wembanyama vs. JJJ
Victor Wembanyama is coming off a strong performance agains the Sacramento Kings. He put up 27 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals on Friday night. This is Wemby’s second back-to-back in his NBA career. He wasn’t too effective in his first back-to-back, putting up 13 and 10 in 21 minutes in a blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers.
To make matters worse for the rookie, he’ll be facing the reigning defensive player of the year in Jackson Jr. It’s more likely that JJJ will be guarding Zach Collins inside, but don’t be surprised if the Grizzlies stick their best paint defender on Wembanyama to prevent his interior scoring. This is another good test for the Spurs number-one-pick.
The Grizzlies have a glaring hole in their defensive attack: defending the three-point line. They are giving up threes at a 42.1% clip to opponents, the highest percentage in the league. Second to last? The San Antonio Spurs at 40.3%. Both teams should be able to get good looks from deep against each other.
The caveat here is that both teams shoot it relatively poor from deep. The Spurs are 20th in the league in three-point shooting, hitting 34.9% of them. The Grizzlies are 25th in the league, shooting 33.7% from three. Three-point shooting should be a key stat to track in this game.