Scouting the Grizzlies: Spurs’ frontline gets another chance

After getting embarrassed at home by the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday in the AT&T Center, the San Antonio Spurs (40-16) will be tryingMG to get rid of the bad taste the Lakers left in their mouths, by hosting another “large” team, the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Spurs were outrebounded by the Lakers 60-33 and Lakers center Andrew Bynum almost had as many rebounds as the entire Spurs team as he grabbed 30 rebounds. The Spurs looked like shades of their old selves from last season, as they just could not find any way to get around the Lakers’ height with their frontline of Bynum and Pau Gasol.

Today, the Spurs welcome back Gasol’s younger brother Marc, who is all too familiar with the Spurs and their smaller frontline. The Grizzlies are the team which defeated the Spurs as an eight seed in last season’s playoffs, but this Grizzlies team has a few new faces, and an old healthy one.

The Grizzlies come into San Antonio with a four game winning streak, as they’re 8-2 in their last 10 games. Don’t let their 13-16 road record fool you, because the Lakers had the exact same road record that the Grizzlies have and they were able to build a 26-point lead on the Spurs.

Case No. 57: Memphis Grizzlies (34-23)

The King

  • Rudy Gay vs. Spurs – 12.7 points, 8 rebounds, 2.7 steals, 33% FG, 25% 3PT. So far this season, rookie Kawhi Leonard has been stellar in defending Gay, and now the Spurs have Stephen Jackson to help Leonard make Gay’s nights even more difficult. Another valuable edge the Spurs have with Gay being healthy is that he takes the majority of Memphis’ shots, which limits Gasol and Zach Randolph on offense.

The Knights

  • Marc Gasol  vs. Spurs – 14 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 1.3 blocks, 50% FG, 83% FT. Gasol is barely missing his league average by one point, but the Spurs have done a better job this season by allowing Gay to take the majority of Memphis’ shots and limiting Gasol from taking as many attempts as he was getting in the playoffs last year.
  • Mike Conley vs. Spurs – 15 points, 6 assists, 1 steal, 39% FG, 80% 3PT, 81% FT. Conley always seems to play better when he faces the Spurs, and he’ll have to be ready defensively as Tony Parker will be looking to come out with a big game after he was held to four points on 2-of-12 shooting against the Lakers.
  • O.J. Mayo vs. Spurs – 10 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1 steal, 40% FG, 25% 3PT, 67% FT. Mayo is the sixth man for the Grizzlies, he’ll really have his plate full with the amount of depth the Spurs possess on the bench which begins with Manu Ginobili, and the team could possibly have Gary Neal back in uniform.
  • Zach Randolph – 12.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 10.7 FGA (45%), 3.8 FTA (66%). Randolph has only played in 20 games this season as he was injured through the majority of the season, but even he is being limited in touches with Gay back in the mix for Memphis.
  • Tony Allen vs. Spurs (Game time decision)– 5.5 points, 2.5 steals, 33% FG.

The Bishops

  • Marreese Speights  – 8.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 8.2 FGA (45%)

The Pawns

  • Gilbert Arenas – 6 points, 4.7 FGA (45%), 2.7 3PT FGA (42%). Arenas is a fresh piece for the Grizzlies second unit, but will he have the speed to keep pace with the Aussie Patty Mills?

Offense vs. Offense

  • 1. Points: Spurs (101.7) – Grizzlies (95.2) = Spurs
  • 2. Assists: Spurs (22.6) – Grizzlies (19.7) = Spurs
  • 3. Shooting percentage: Spurs (47.2%) – Grizzlies (44.6%) = Spurs
  • 4. Three point shooting percentage: Spurs (38.5%) – Grizzlies (33%) = Spurs
  • 5. Turnovers: Spurs (13) – Grizzlies (14) = Spurs

Offensive Leader: Spurs 5-0

Defense vs. Defense

  • 1. Opponent scoring: Spurs (96.4) – Grizzlies (93.4) = Grizzlies
  • 2. Opponent shooting: Spurs (45%) – Grizzlies (45%) = Tie
  • 3. Rebounds: Spurs (42.7) – Grizzlies (42.3) = Spurs
  • 4. Personal Fouls: Spurs (17.3) – Grizzlies (19.9) = Spurs

Defensive Leader: Spurs 2-1

Game Expectation

Even though the Spurs were embarrassed on Wednesday, expect them to come out with a lot of fire and energy against the Grizzlies.

After the game against the Lakers, coach Gregg Popovich, Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Danny Green all spoke of the same issue, the Spurs just weren’t as competitive as the Lakers.

Even though it’s the second night of a back-to-back, expect a much more focused Spurs team.

The Spurs’ frontline will once again be tested with Gasol and Randolph, but the question must be asked: is this the same Memphis team now that Gay is healthy?

In the playoffs last season, a big reason why the Grizzlies defeated the Spurs was because of their superior advantage in the paint when they fed the ball to Bynum or Gasol. With Gay in this season, both Randolph and Gasol’s shot attempts have declined and this could make for a hidden advantage the Spurs have.

The Spurs must really crash the boards if only to send the message that the team isn’t too small against teams with more height. If the Spurs can push the tempo, share the ball, crash the boards, talk to each other when initiating a double-team, then the Spurs should be able to find retribution in their loss to the Lakers.

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX and the 2013 NBA Finals.

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