The playoff rematch of Chicago and Miami on Sunday certainly lived up to the hype. So we’re going to stay in the postseason mode with the San Antonio Spurs heading to face the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies were the No. 8 seed team the Spurs faced in Memphis’ stunning upset over number one-seeded San Antonio in last year’s playoffs. The Grizzlies were also the first team the Spurs met this season, earning some mini- revenge with a 95-82 win at home.
Emphasis on home.
San Antonio is allowing only 89.5 points to opponents at the AT&T Center this season where they are 10-1. But it’s a different story on the road where they allow a porous 102.4 — 27th in the league.
Head coach Gregg Popovich went to his bench down 18 points in the third quarter, sitting starers Tim Duncan, Richard Jefferson and Tony Parker for Green, Gary Neal, Matt Bonner, and James Anderson. The subs led a productive bench (they scored the Spurs’ final 51 points) that put Spurs up 9, ultimately falling short in overtime.
The Grizzlies (10-9) lost their best low-post threat in Zach Randolph (knee), but have been able to survive with Marc Gasol averaging career highs in points (15.1), rebounds (10.3) and blocks (2.3).
Rudy Gay (19.2 ppg in Randolph’s absence) is also playing like a star, and O.J. Mayo has been lights out from three, making 24 of his last 50.
Even with the strong play, survive is all Memphis has been able to do.
After winning seven straight games during which they shot a robust 49.6 percent, The Grizzlies have lost three in a row coming into Monday’s game, shooting 38.8 in the losses.
Manu Ginobili (broken hand) for the Spurs and Memphis’ Darrell Arthur (torn ACL) are also out.
(Note: Reader and Twitter follower Chad Erickson took exception a few days ago when we made New York at Houston the Game of the Night instead of Jimmer Fredette’s return to Utah with the Sacramento Kings. I tweeted Chad back and said he probably had a valid point (Fredette ended up airballing the potential game-tying 3), and told Chad was welcome to take a stab at today’s entry.-CS)
From Erickson: “Only a few games tonight of real intrigue, Utah and Portland always makes for a good rivalry game, and you can’t go wrong with KD vs Blake. But tonight’s marquee matchup would have to be a playoff rematch between the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies. Like most of the Western Conference, both teams are battling to stay over .500. With the season already being one-fourth of the way done, neither team can afford to let a conference game slip through their fingers with 11 teams likely to remain in playoff contention. Tony Parker is once again at near All-Star numbers, coming in at nearly 18 ppg and eight assists and will look to lead the charge as the Spurs try to bounce back from 2 straight losses. On the other side you have Marc Gasol, who is trying to prove he is indeed worth the max ($58 million) contract he signed this past offseason. Showing his dominance and perhaps making the Pau Gasol trade seem a bit more fair. It only took 4 years, but that’s neither here nor there. Marc is averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and nearly 2.5 blocks. How will he match up against the Big Fundamental?