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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies

The Spurs welcome a shorthanded Grizzlies team that’s fighting to hold on to their #2 seed out West

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

It feels as though the Memphis Grizzlies have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons the last few weeks. Whether it’s been the ongoing Ja Morant situation, podcast hot topic Dillon Brooks and his beef with Draymond Green, a horrific Achilles tear for 4th year forward Brandon Clark, or the predictable questions surrounding the team’s youth and it’s ability to actually compete for the championship, doubters have slowly been circling the wagons. At times, it’s looked as though the wheels may be falling off entirely.

To this point though, they’ve been able to keep the ship steady. They’ve managed to go 3-3 in Morant’s absence while maintaining their position in 2nd place out West, and while there’s no denying the Morant situation has been a distraction, Memphis at least knows that their superstar will be able to rejoin them next Monday after his 8 game suspension from the league comes to an end. Truly a best-case scenario considering where the conversation was at when the story first broke, and with the West looking shaky for much of this season, the chance still remains for them to make a deep run. They will still need every game they can get, though, if they want to home off the Sacramento Kings, who are also 41-27 as of this writing.

Tonight’s game with the San Antonio Spurs represents one of Memphis’, “easier,” games remaining on their schedule. That easier comes in quotations because since snapping their 16 game losing streak, the Spurs have been playing some decent basketball. They’re 4-4 in their last 8, 3 of them coming in the month of March. That mark represents the most wins they’ve had in a month since December and they nearly stole another win the other night before losing to Dallas in overtime. They managed to knock off West-leading Denver last week, so why not take down #1 and #2 one week apart?

San Antonio Spurs (18-51) vs Memphis Grizzlies (41-27)

March 17, 2023 | 7:00 PM CT

Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries:Zach Collins (day to day), Keldon Johnson (day to day), Jeremy Sochan (day to day) Devin Vassell (day to day ), Charles Bassey (OUT), Khem Birch (knee - OUT),

Grizzlies Injuries:Ja Morant (OUT), Brandon Clarke (OUT), Steven Adam’s (OUT), Vince Williams (OUT), Jake LeRavia (questionable)

What to watch for

  • Jeremy Sochan vs Jaren Jackson Jr. is the highlight match-up for this one, as long as Sochan plays. In 4 games, Sochan is averaging 21 points this month, a mark that would exceed all previous months during his rookie year. Triple J, meanwhile, is leading the NBA in blocks this year with 3.1 a contest.
  • Memphis boasts the NBA’s top defense in Defensive Rating, giving up 110.3 points per 100 possessions. They’re missing Steven Adams down low, but Jaren Jackson Jr and Dillon Brooks have been crucial anchors for the Memphis defense all season.
  • Malaki Branham had his best scoring game in almost a month against the Mavericks, scoring 20 points in 29 minutes off the bench. Branham last scored at least 20 back on February 24th.
  • Devin Vassell missed the last two matchups with Memphis back in January, but is off the injury report for tonight’s game. Vassell has struggled shooting the ball in his first 5 games back from injury (38% overall, 25% from 3), but has made positive contributions in all 3 of the Spurs’ wins in March.
  • The Jones brothers, Tyus and Tre, should have a chance to go at one another tonight. Brother Tre returned to the Spurs starting lineup against Dallas after coming off the bench last Friday against Denver. Tyus meanwhile has done an admirable job holding down the Grizzlies point guard position in Ja’s absence

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

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