The San Antonio Spurs have had a surprisingly difficult time knocking off the Memphis Grizzlies in their Western Conference first-round series this year. This is despite the Grizzlies missing Tony Allen, their best perimeter defender who would have been helpful defending Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard.
In Game 6 today, San Antonio will look to turn its 3-2 series lead into a series win (9:30 p.m. ET Thursday on TNT). However, Memphis will again have the home-court advantage that it used to win Games 3 and 4. The Spurs have the best player in the series, but the Grizzlies definitely have the second- and third-best players in Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Will the Grizzlies force a Game 7, or will the Spurs end their opponent’s season? Let’s dive into some important questions for tonight’s game before reaching our predictions and betting picks’ conclusion.
Will the Grizzlies Role Players Knock Down Open Three-Pointers?
The Spurs have decided that containing Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph is their top priority on defense. If you watch the way San Antonio players defend off the ball when those guys handle the rock, you’ll see how much they collapse into the paint.
Naturally, that leads to frequent open three-point looks for all other Memphis players. Non-Big Three guys have been mostly unsuccessful on those looks, shooting a combined 23-of-73 (31.5 percent) from downtown. However, the percentage has jumped from 27.2 percent to 37.9 percent in the Grizzlies’ two wins.
When guys like Vince Carter, James Ennis and JaMychal Green are knocking down threes, this forces San Antonio to defend them more closely. Conley, Gasol and Randolph then have more space in the paint to attack the rim, which makes Memphis much harder to stop.
Can Mike Conley Keep Tony Parker Under Wraps in the Pick-and-Roll?
In my opinion, Parker is the Spurs’ biggest X-factor on a nightly basis. He’s the quick playmaking guard that the squad doesn’t have aside from him, but he’s also extremely inconsistent. It’s no coincidence that TP’s worst game of the series (no point and no assists in Game 3) was also San Antonio’s worst game as a team.
The veteran floor general has actually been pretty good in this series, though, and Conley needs to do a better job of keeping Parker from getting his way into the paint. This could mean going under screens more often to force Parker to use his mid-range jumper.
Memphis’ ability to defend Parker well can go a long way to stall the Spurs’ offense and force Kawhi Leonard to do everything, which will tire him out.
Will the Referees Continue the Home-Cooking?
I’ve watched all five of the games in this series so far. Grizzlies coach David Fizdale did have a legitimate gripe with the officiating after the Spurs’ Game 2 win, but it seemed like the refs overcompensated in Games 3 and 4 in Memphis. The Grizzlies were allowed to be more physical, and the Spurs often weren’t. Then, the benefit of the whistle once again leaned San Antonio’s way in Game 5.
It seems as if the officials have been significantly impacted by the home fans, and it would be nice if that didn’t continue in Game 6. An evenly officiated game probably gives San Antonio an edge on the road, but a Grizzlies-friendly whistle might turn the tables.
Our Preview’s San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies Game 6 Picks & Betting Predictions
Memphis made its statement in Games 3 and 4, but I feel like those were probably its best punches. San Antonio has the vastly superior depth (which finally showed up in Game 5) and the best player in the series with Kawhi Leonard, though Mike Conley has also been excellent.
The Grizzlies’ crowd will be amped up for Game 6. However, I trust Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to make the proper adjustments to help his squad finally dispose of this pesky Grizzlies squad.
- With San Antonio favored by four points, this is not an easy spread to decide on. However my money would go with Spurs to defy that deficit on the spread @ -110 with 5Dimes, MyBookie or Betonline.
- Most USA friendly betting outlets list 190 total points as the over/under for Thursday’s game. The pace for this series has been glacial, but both teams have made the scores look only somewhat low with impressive shot-making from the field and from the free-throw line. I expect some regression to the mean for both squads, which should result in a score along the lines of 95-88. Bet the under @ -105 with Bovada Sportsbook. It is at least -110 with the others.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.