GAME: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs
Time: 7:30 pm CST
PLACE: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Records: Memphis (0-0), San Antonio (0-0)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
San Antonio: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair
The Memphis Grizzlies face the San Antonio Spurs tonight in the season opener for both teams. It’s their first meeting since the #8 seeded Grizzlies toppled the #1 seeded Spurs in the playoffs last spring — only the third time that has happened in NBA postseason history.
The Grizzlies have been bitten by the injury bug in the preseason. First Xavier Henry went down, and then Darrell Arthur followed him. DA will miss the entire season, which is a tremendous blow to the team, as he was the primary backup to Z-Bo and Marc last season. There is a little more depth at the wings though, especially after the team signed swingman Dante Cunningham and traded PG Greivis Vasquez to New Orleans for SG/SF Quincy Pondexter.
Memphis will be eager to welcome back Rudy Gay to their lineup after not having seen him in a regular season game since February 15, when he suffered a serious shoulder injury that required surgery. They are also very happy to see Marc Gasol back in uniform after a long offseason of hearing everyone talk about him possibly leave as a restricted free agent.
The Spurs have a few questions to address, too. They were expected to use their amnesty clause on SF Richard Jefferson, but didn’t. Then, they tried to trade him, unsuccessfully, which makes us curious as to where his confidence level is at this point. They are another year older, as Tim Duncan’s stellar career begins to wind down towards its conclusion. During the draft, they traded backup guard George Hill to the Pacers for Kawhi Leonard, a standout at San Diego State last year.
The Grizzlies will need to get Randolph and Gasol going early, which will help create open perimeter shots and driving lanes for the wing players. Mike Conley will need to force the issue at PG, pushing and probing when he has the ball in his hands. Rudy Gay will just need to let the game come to him, as he reintegrates himself into the lineup.
The Spurs will do what they always do, which is let the offense run through Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, while Tony Parker gets his where he can. That much hasn’t changed. I think the winner of the Conley-Parker matchup will probably be on the winning team as well, although all bets are off if Manu gets hot.
These two teams know each other well as division rivals, so there shouldn’t be many surprises in this game. Both teams are aware of the other’s strengths and weaknesses, so I would expect a tight game that will come down to whichever team is more aggressive and executes its gameplan the best.