Heading into February 6 of this season, the San Antonio Spurs had defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in nine straight head-to-head matchups, including last spring’s playoff series. But the Grizzlies won that night and last Saturday, and now head into San Antonio today looking to clinch a season series win over their division rival (8:30 p.m. ET Thursday).
There’s a very strong chance 54-16 San Antonio and 40-31 Memphis will meet in the first round of the postseason for a second straight year. The two teams are playing at a generally similar level right now, as they both have four wins in their last six games. Both squads have continued to rely on their defense for success, and rightfully so.
Let’s ask a few questions that will determine today’s game and then this preview will make some picks and predictions for the betting lines on the contest.
Can Tony Parker Stay Somewhat Competitive In His Matchup Against Mike Conley?
Tony Parker (pictured) is at a point in which anything he provides the Spurs is sporadic. If he plays well one game, he probably isn’t going to do as well the next game. His averages of 10.2 points and 4.7 assists per game are his lowest numbers since his rookie year, and his field-goal percentage (46.7) is the worst he’s attained in 13 years.
TP is considerably better in San Antonio wins than losses, which is no surprise. His per-36 minute scoring jumps from 10.9 to 15.6, his per-36 minute assists increase from 5.0 to 7.2 and his shooting slash leaps from 41.3/23.1/62.5 to 48.4/39.1/78.7
Conley is one of the better defensive point guards in the NBA, and Parker will need to be pretty spry to produce much of significance against him. Of course, if TP can’t even test Conley’s defensive abilities, the Grizzlies’ floor general will have more energy to show off his impressive bag of offensive tricks on the other end of the floor.
Can Tony Allen Keep Making Life Difficult For Kawhi Leonard?
Last week’s matchup between the Grizzlies and Spurs saw Allen play excellent defense on Leonard, San Antonio’s offensive focal point. Kawhi shot a mere 6-of-15 from the floor and had three turnovers, and many of those misses and fumbles were due to Allen’s physical play.
Can that pattern continue in San Antonio tonight? The Spurs are considerably less dangerous when Kawhi can’t get the shots he wants.
With Allen, foul trouble is sometimes an issue. He did have four hacks against the Spurs in the last game, which probably is the main reason he didn’t play more than the 31 minutes he logged. He’ll need to take on the tough task of being physical, but not fouling, against one of the trickiest scorers in the league.
Will the Spurs or Grizzlies Establish Their Three-Point Attack Against Each Others’ Strong Defenses?
Neither the Spurs nor the Grizzlies are known for being teams that hoist up three-pointers in bunches. However, both squads have made a point of doing so recently, and they’ve been pretty successful at it.
San Antonio has attempted at least 24 threes in its last six games, which is above its season-long average of 23.3. The Spurs have made an excellent 40.1 percent of those shots.
Memphis has taken no fewer than 27 long-distance shots in its last six contests, making 34.4 percent of them. In that span, though, the Grizzlies have shot 41.4 percent from downtown in their four wins and just 21.9 percent in their two losses.
Both of these teams’ suddenly high-volume ways from three-point range will be tested by strong defenses. The team that can manufacture quality looks from the outside with good side-to-side ball movement and smart player movement will have a good chance at winning.
Our Preview’s Memphis Grizzlies vs San Antonio Spurs Picks & Betting Predictions
The Spurs are the better team at home here and, contrary to what recent games show, actually do match up well against the Grizzlies. They have the superstar Memphis doesn’t (Kawhi Leonard) and otherwise have a similarly constructed, but deeper, roster.
While San Antonio has lost its two most recent games in Memphis, the Spurs have won five straight games on their home floor against the Grizzlies by an average margin of 17.6 points per game. Here our the predictions and picks for this game:
- The betting firms make Spurs eight-point favorites tonight. San Antonio will ride an aggressive LaMarcus Aldridge and a better bench to a victory of at least that much, so I recommend betting the Spurs -8pts @ best betting odds of -105 with 5Dimes Sportsbook. It is -110 for the same spread with Bovada, BetOnline and MyBookie.
- The over-under for this game is 198.5pts, which makes sense for a game between two of the league’s slowest-paced and most defensive-minded squads. I do think Tony Allen will keep Leonard somewhat under control and both teams will continue playing lockdown defense against each other. Bet the under 198.5pts @ -110 with 5Dimes, BetOnline or MyBookie.