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When: Tuesday, January 7th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN

Records: Memphis Grizzlies (15-18), Opponent (26-8)
Media: NBA TV, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Discuss: 3SOB Twitter/Forum, Grizzlies Message Boards

The Grizzlies are coming off possibly their best win of the year, as they throttled the Pistons 112-84 on Sunday. Lately, they’ve been in a “lose one, win one” stretch, which they’ll try to break free from against the Spurs, one of the league’s best teams, and a consistent thorn in the Grizzlies side in recent times. First, they swept the Grizz in the Conference Finals, then they beat them on opening night, then Marc Gasol went down against San Antonio. After all that frustration, a win against Sn Antonio tonight would likely be both extremely satisfying, but fairly cathartic as well. Oh, and Courtney Lee makes his debut with the team after being acquired from the Celtics in exchange for Jerryd Bayless. Let’s hope it’s the start of something beautiful!

Expected Starting Lineups:

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Mike Conley vs Tony Parker
Parker is playing well this year, but you probably aren’t hearing about it much, partly because he was a bit better last year, and partly because everyone knows how good Tony Parker is now, and it’s not as fun to talk about as it was two years ago. Still, he’s one of the scariest point guards in the league, and Conley will have his hands full tonight (which I’m sure he’s sued to). Parker is great at both getting the shot he wants, and finding ways to score even when he can’t get that shot (see his ridiculous buzzer-beater in Game 1 of the Finals). Even in his 13th year in the league, Parker hasn’t lost anything, and it will take a massive effort by Conley to render him ineffective.
Advantage: San Antonio 

Tony Allen

Tony Allen vs Marco Belinelli
When the Spurs signed Belinelli in the offseason, pretty everyone knew he’d be a perfect fit, but I’m not sure if anyone expected him to play this well. He’s making more than 10 percent more of shots than he did last year, and he leads the NBA in three-point percentage. It’s one thing for someone to be the right guy for a player’s system, but such a stark improvement is a bit shocking, and the main reason why Belinelli has replaced Danny Green in the starting lineup. Allen has faced tougher matchups this year, but dealing with such a strong shooter can be tricky, since Belinelli can hit shots even with Allen in his face.
Advantage: San Antonio

Tayshaun Prince vs Kawhi Leonard
Hey guys, Prince actually had a good game the other day! Maybe it was the motivation of playing against his old team, but whatever the case, it was great seeing Tayshaun look like his old self, even if just for one game. This will be a rather difficult matchup for him, however, as he takes on one of the league’s most talented young small forwards in Leonard. While his per game numbers initially look pedestrian, that’s merely the result of playing with so many other talented players who need the ball in their hands. Kawhi could be a leader if he had to, and when Duncan and Ginobili are retired, he will likely become the team’s main option (with Parker in his mid 30s). A great athlete, a strong three-point shooter, and an excellent defender, there’s not much this guy can’t do.
Advantage: San Antonio

Zach Randolph

Zach Randolph vs Boris Diaw
I’m totally guessing with this one. Tiago Splitter is out for the next 3-5 weeks, and from my stand point, the most logical fix for this is to move Duncan back to the 5, and insert Diaw, a reliable veteran into the starting lineup. With all the weight Diaw has put on over the years, he never looks like a particularly scary player, but he has ways of putting points on the board, and can never be taken lightly. Meanwhile, Z-Bo is coming off yet another 20-10 game, and while it often seems like he’s being overworked in Gasol’s absence, the 17-10 he’s putting for the year is certainly encouraging. he’s carrying an enormous load, and there have been a few games where he’s collapsed under it, but for the most part, he’s done a great job keeping this tem from falling apart completely.
Advantage: Memphis

Kosta Koufos vs Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan isn’t necessarily having a bad year – every team in the league would kill to have him – but he is having a bad year by Tim Duncan standards, which is perfectly acceptable when you’re in your 17th year (although, he might not see it that way). Moving Duncan back to the center while Splitter recuperates could have fascinating effects on Duncan’s overall performance. He’s known as the best power forward of All-Time, but it’s often been argued that the 5 is his natural position, and last year – when he made first-team All-NBA as a center – only supported that notion. At his age, Duncan might work better as a center than a power forward (see Kevin Garnett two years ago), and while Splitter’s injuries hurts the team’s depth, it could lead to a spike in Duncan’s performance.
Advantage: San Antonio

Benches:

Ed Davis is officially looking like Ed Davis again! After some uneasiness throughout his first year in Memphis, Davis looks like the stud Grizzlies fans hoped he would become when they acquired him in the Rudy Gay trade nearly a year ago. The numbers are there, and the remarkable athleticism is there. Meanwhile, Jon Leuer is officially  a reliable bench piece for this team. The concern of opposing defenses catching up with him has yet to manifest itself, and it’s hard not see him as a key part of this rotation. It’ll be interesting to see how Joerger gets minutes for him when Marc comes back (maybe he’ll play the 3?), but he needs to get minutes somehow. Obviously, the arrival of Courtney Lee, and the loss of Jerryd Bayless will be interesting story lines tonight. The fear with Bayless one is that Nick Calathes will be forced to play more minutes than hes ready for, which is a serious concern. Look for Calathes to get his shot tonight, but if he struggles, don’t be surprised if Lee ends up with the ball in his hands a lot, and Conley plays a ton of minutes As for the Spurs, Ginobili just keeps rolling along. At 36, he leads the team in Win Shares, at has to be among the front-runners for sixth man of the year. Patty Mills is finally getting consistent minutes and has replaced Cory Joseph as the backup point guard. Jeff Ayres and Aron Baynes will have to step their games up with Splitter out. The Spurs aren’t all that deep as far as big men go, and that could be a problem.
Advantage:  San Antonio

More on the Opponent:
Assessing the Enemy
48 Minutes Of Hell

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