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When: Wednesday, October 30th, 7:30 PM CST
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Photo: Eric Gay / AP Photo

Records: Memphis (0-0), San Antonio (0-0)
Media: SportSouth, NBA League Pass, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Discuss: 3SOB Twitter/Forum, Grizzlies Message Boards

After an eventful but never-ending summer and a long and rocky preseason, it’s finally time for some meaningful Memphis Grizzlies action! Sure we all know the history by now: the Grizzlies are winless in season openers and have gone a total of 2-83838 (well, technically 2-10, but it feels just the same) against the Spurs since upsetting them in the 2011 playoffs. Let us not lament the past, however, as 2013-14 is the stage for new beginnings and revitalized Grit n’ Grind spirit. Lionel Hollins has himself a new gig in the coach’s corner on NBAtv, while his lead assistant Dave Joerger moves up to the big chair on the sidelines. The Spurs are a tall drink of water to take down, but what better opportunity for a new head coach to earn himself immediate endearment to the fan base, than to avenge last season’s Western Conference Finals sweep in your first rodeo? No pressure, Dave.

Expected Starting Lineups:

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Mike Conley vs Tony Parker:
Parker is not known for being a defensive wizard of any sorts, but in the playoffs, he had Mike Conley on lockdown with a different kind of defense: his offense. The enduring task of checking Parker in the Western Conference Finals was an absolute chore, and one that Conley was stuck doing more than anybody else. Parker ran Conley into and through just about every screen ever set by mankind last May. The result? With the assignment of Parker and no true backup point to afford him any rest, number 11 had no legs left under him for the other end of the floor, converting on just 38.3% of his field goals and 26.7% from three. Expect the Spurs to exploit this again.
Advantage: San Antonio

Tony Allen

Tony Allen vs Danny Green:
Danny Green swiftly became a household name (and the pride of Long Island, if I may add) with his dynamite display of long range shooting early in the Finals against the Heat, but for those paying attention, his outburst was hardly of the surprising sort. Heading into the Heat series, he had already drilled 28 three pointers in the playoffs, while shooting a 43% clip from the land of plenty. With all the attention on Parker’s penetration, Green has been able to capitalize on favorable looks ad nauseum, but you best believe the Grindfather’s not going to let him too far out of his sight tonight.
Advantage: Memphis

Rudy Gay

Tayshaun Prince vs Kawhi Leonard:
Tayshaun missed the majority of the preseason with a grueling stomach bug that according to the Commercial Appeal caused him to lose up to 15 pounds, but was able to return for the final exhibition. His lone display was a disappointing one, going 0-3 form the field with 3 turnovers to boot. In spite of the output, it seems like a moral victory just to have him back in action for the night. Hopefully he’s feeling right by now for his sake, as well as the sake of the team. He’ll need all the oomph he can muster against the emerging Kawhi Leonard.
Advantage: San Antonio

Zach Randolph

Zach Randolph vs Tim Duncan:
It’s hard to call to memory a Zach Randolph that was more frustrated and out of sorts on the offensive end than the one that put up 11 points per game on 30.2% shoting against the Spurs last May. How did Gregg Popovich’s guys do it? They simply didn’t allow him to settle into any sort of rhythm. Pop ensured that there were fresh legs on Randolph at all times, tossing different looks his way for the entirety of the series. From Tim Duncan, to Matt Bonner, to Boris Diaw, to Tiago Spitter, everyone had a chance to try their hand in defending the Grizzly juggernaut — and each succeeded in their own way. Randolph thrives on creating and fighting through contact. He uses the physicality not only to wear out the opposition, but also to ground himself for leverage in getting his shots off. Simply by not obliging his invitation to wrestle in the paint, Spurs defenders had him off balance from the start. On the other side of tonight’s matchup, Duncan was about as hungry as I’ve ever seen him in Game Six of the Finals, but ran out of steam towards the end and beyond. With a chip on his shoulder, I expect tonight to commence another season of greatness out of one of the most sound big men the game has ever seen. Also, let the record state that he has still never committed a foul, to my or his knowledge.
Advantage: San Antonio

Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol vs Tiago Splitter:
With their histories of international play behind them, I always love the prospects of a Gasol v. Splitter matchup, but with the way that the Spurs focus their defensive structure against the Grizzlies around Mr. Randolph, it never turns out to be a very eventful one. Regardless, Splitter earned himself a big payday over the summer, and with Duncan getting seriously up there in age, figures to find himself with an increasing degree of responsibility in his hands as we move forward. Gasol is in a similar situation, with Randolph’s offensive role likely to diminish in Joerger’s intended sticky-hands-free offense, but is already much further along in the processs.
Advantage: Memphis

Benches:

The Grizzlies’ bench has generated far more buzz over the offseason than the mainly static starting lineup, receiving a facelift from all degrees of player movement. The new management team in Memphis wasted no time in trying to construct a contender by fortifying the depth chart considerably. New additions through the draft (Jamaal Franklin), free agency (Mike Miller), and the eerie realm of trades (Kosta Koufos and Nick Calathes), join the opted-in Jerryd Bayless, re-signed preseason favorite Jonnie Leuer, and the returning favorites for “most-improved Grizzly,” Ed Davis and Quincy Pondexter in what reads on paper as the most crowded and effective second unit since Hubie Brown’s days on Beale Street. Shifting gears, the Spurs bench contains Manu Ginobili, who even at his advanced age is one of the more dangerous benchmen in the Association, and has seen its minimal departures of Gary Neal and Dejuan Blair replaced with effective analogs Marco Belinelli and Jeff Ayres (formerly Pendergraph).
Advantage: San Antonio

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

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