SAN ANTONIO SPURS (57-15) vs. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (40-33)
|SPURS||Manu Ginobili 18.0||Tim Duncan 9.0||Tony Parker 6.6|
|GRIZZLIES||Zach Randolph 19.9||Zach Randolph 12.4||Mike Conley 6.6|
The San Antonio Spurs seemed to be missing Tim Duncan’s leadership on the floor. They were defeated in two close games without their team captain by losing composure down the stretch.
The Spurs will try to avoid a season-high third straight loss tonight when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies in a potential first-round playoff preview.
San Antonio (57-15) still has a four game lead over the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the league, but they have to be concerned after wasting leads in the final quarter, losing back-to-back games for the second time this season.
The Spurs led 96-90 with 1:21 left the fourth period against the Portland Trail Blazers last Friday but lost 98-96, committing three of their 19 turnovers in the final 40 seconds.
Manu Ginobili had 21 points and seven assists but also had five turnovers in that game. Tony Parker had eight miscues. Tiago Splitter started in Duncan’s place against Portland and had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies (40-33) had their three-game winning streak snapped by a 99-96 loss at Chicago last Friday. Mike Conley missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
Memphis had held its previous three opponents to an average of 83.3 points.
Rudy Gay has undergone a season-ending surgery to repair his partially dislocated left shoulder. The Grizzlies are 9-7 without him.
The Grizzlies will play six of their next seven games at home and have a 1 and a half game lead over ninth-place Houston Rockets.
The last time the Spurs lost consecutive games was on January 4-5, but responded by winning their next eight. They haven’t dropped three games in a row since January 20-25, 2010.
Hit the jump for the keys of the game and find out which team will win this matchup.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Offense — Pound it on the inside. With Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low, they must take advantage of the Spurs’ frontline that is sorely missing Duncan. However, they will still need enough offensive production from their backcourt to beat the Spurs.
Defense — Prevent Ginobili from beating them on offense, limit Parker’s ability to involve the other Spurs on offense and cover the the Spurs’ outside shooters.
Spurs — Tim Duncan – ankle (out)
Grizzlies — Rudy Gay – dislocated shoulder (out)
PREDICTION: The Grizzlies are really playing well lately, beating the Celtics in Boston and played toe-to-toe with in a losing cause against Chicago. They will try to get back to the win column against a short-handed Spurs team.
However, the Spurs are coming off two straight losses and will definitely try their hardest to avoid losing another game. This will be a tough battle, the Spurs desire to win will get them through.
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