Revisiting the San Antonio Spurs’ season series vs. Memphis

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San Antonio Spurs

With the San Antonio Spurs’ play-in game scheduled for tomorrow in Memphis, I decided to take a look back at how the Spurs fared against the Memphis Grizzlies in the season series this year.

Make sure to also read our round-up of predictions on the play-in game and check back tomorrow morning for our full game preview.

Game 1 – December 23, 2020 – Spurs 131 Grizzlies 119

In the first game of the season series, the Spurs were on the road at FedEx Forum and claimed their only win against the Grizzlies this season.

While Ja Morant went off for 44 points and nine assists, the Spurs kept the rest of Memphis’ scorers limited to 16 or fewer points.

Memphis offense was able to shoot at a high clip, but the Spurs were just better on offense as seven of the nine rotation players scored in double digits, led by a near triple-double from DeMar DeRozan with 28 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists. Dejounte Murray also played well opposite Morant and finished with 21 points, nine assists, and six rebounds.

”I thought our guys, our young guys competed hard, really showed themselves well for the first game we played together,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game.’

As he’s done several times this season, Lonnie Walker IV was a sniper from the perimeter, knocking down three-of-four three-pointers and chipping in 16 points.

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Game 2 – January 30, 2021 – Grizzlies 129 Spurs 112

The Spurs seem to have played better on the road this season than at home, and that trend would continue in January when Memphis traveled to San Antonio to even up the series.

The Grizzlies got off to a hot start, scoring 35 first-quarter points, and while the Spurs tried to crawl back in the rest of the game, they could never make up the difference.

”For us to stay locked in and continue to do the things that we need to do to win just shows the work of this whole organization,” Ja Morant said.

The game marked Derrick White‘s return from a 14-game absence, and he led the Spurs in scoring with 18 off the bench. With DeRozan limited to just 25 minutes and only finishing with five points, the Spurs didn’t have enough firepower on offense to answer back to Memphis’ three-point shooting display.

The Grizzlies knocked down 48.6 percent of their threes and were led in scoring by Morant’s 19 points, De’Anthony Melton‘s 20 off the bench, and current Spur Gorgui Dieng finished the game with 15 points and seven boards for the Grizzlies.

Game 3 – February 2, 2021 – Grizzlies 133 Spurs 102

Days later, the Grizzlies completed a dominating win over the Spurs for their seventh consecutive win.

Once again, Gorgui Dieng came up big for Memphis off the bench with 19 points and nine rebounds in just 24 minutes of playing time.

”We just play together, that’s all,” Dieng said then. ”We share the ball. We don’t care who scores.”

The second and fourth quarters plagued the Spurs as Memphis scored 36 and 37 points in each quarter with the Spurs just able to break 20 in the second.

While Keldon Johnson had one of his better games of the season, tallying 25 points and 10 rebounds, two starters only managed a combined 10 points and the bench scoring wasn’t there to get the first unit over the hump.

Once again, Memphis knocked down 50 percent of their three-point attempts, and all but one player that checked into the game scored in double figures.

What it all means heading into the play-in

Aside from when Derrick White was healthy, the Spurs have had issues knocking down three-pointers and defending the three on the other end. While Memphis has cooled down a bit from beyond the arch, they have the players that can heat up there quickly.

If the Spurs consistently double Ja Morant anytime he penetrates, he’s a more than capable passer, with weapons like Kyle Anderson, Dillion Brooks, and De’Anthony Melton ready to knock down threes.

On offense, they’ll rely on Walker, Patty Mills, Rudy Gay, and Devin Vassell hitting their long-range shots to keep the Memphis defense honest.

Another trend in the season series I noticed was that Memphis has always been able to get multiple players involved. The Spurs will try to buck that trend tomorrow night to give themselves the best chance to move on.

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