It’s becoming more apparent that the 42-35 Memphis Grizzlies and 59-17 San Antonio Spurs will meet each other in the first round of the NBA playoffs for the second straight year. Memphis has fallen 1.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the sixth seed, and the Spurs are now 3.5 games behind the Golden State Warriors for the best record in the NBA.
So, yet again, these teams will likely make up the 2-7 matchup in the Western Conference. They’ll match up for the fourth and final time of the regular season today (8:35 p.m. ET Tuesday).
Surprisingly, Memphis has a 2-1 advantage in the season series. The Grizzlies have stymied the Spurs’ offense in their two wins, though one came with San Antonio superstar Kawhi Leonard sitting out.
Will the Grizzlies take the season series victory, or will the Spurs even the score? Let’s take a look at some questions that will determine today’s contest and then make this preview’s predictions against the spread and picks for the total point projections from the top betting sites for American players.
Which Tony Parker Shows Up Against Mike Conley?
Newsflash: Parker is not close to being an elite point guard anymore. He’s actually one of the least effective starting floor generals in the league now. People don’t like talking about it because of his Hall of Fame career, but it’s the sad reality of the situation.
The last time TP put up at least 11 points in consecutive games was January 14 and 17, almost three months ago. He’ll still have nice performances from time to time, but he’ll usually follow them up with duds. Unfortunately for the Spurs, Parker dropped 21 points against the Utah Jazz on Sunday.
Tonight, Parker matches up with Conley (pictured), one of the better defensive point guards in the NBA. I’m not expecting much from the Spurs veteran, but even an average game would work for the Spurs.
Which Players Suit Up For the Grizzlies, And Will They Be 100 Percent?
Michael Wallace, Marc Gasol, Jamychal Green and Tony Allen are all questionable for this game with injuries. Gasol has missed the team’s last five contests with a left foot strain, Green has missed the last three with shoulder soreness and Allen has an eye injury that may cause him to take a game to rest.
Obviously, it will make a huge difference if any one (or more) of those guys is out tonight. Gasol is arguably the team’s best player and causes problems for San Antonio with his versatile offensive game and savvy defense. Green defends LaMarcus Aldridge well and Tony Allen covers Kawhi Leonard pretty well, too. So Memphis will be without some defensive stoppers if both guys sit.
There’s still the issue of not being 100 percent, even if any combination of the three suit up, which could affect the Grizzlies’ chances.
Which Guys Does Gregg Popovich Rest?
The Spurs will also probably be missing some players, but more for rest than actual injuries. Danny Green and Dejounte Murray are already listed as out with quad and groin injuries respectively, but I would be surprised if they’re the only one who sits out the contest.
Any one (or more) of Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker could be candidates for rest. It should be pretty obvious that San Antonio will be affected by losses to any of those players.
Our Preview’s Memphis Grizzlies vs San Antonio Spurs Picks & Betting Predictions
So much of this game depends purely on who plays for each team, so little wonder the sportsbooks have been slow to price this game up. Both squads are close to locked in to their playoff spots and don’t want to tip their hands too much for a playoff series, so I wouldn’t be surprised if both coaches are extremely conservative with who they put on the floor.
However, I trust the Spurs’ reserves much more than the Grizzlies’ backups. Because of Popovich’s tactics, they’ve been thrust into key spots all year and have the experience, skill and composure to outplay other reserves.
- A lot of the betting sites have not published lines on this game, because of all the uncertainty with the line-ups. However bookmaker.eu has, and they have the Spurs favored by eight points tonight. Considering the uncertainty of who plays, I’m tempted to predict a San Antonio win by fewer than that, purely because of the team being at home and having a deeper roster. The prediction is to go with Memphis Grizzlies +8pts @ -110 betting odds with Bookmaker.eu.
- The over-under for this game is 193, which seems a bit high for me. Both of these teams will likely be playing some unfamiliar line-ups, which might mean the offensive chemistry isn’t quite there for both teams. However, both squads are accustomed to playing with a lot of effort on the defensive end, and they’ll do so. My pick is to bet on under 193 total points @ -110 with Bookmaker.