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Game 5 Preview: Grizzlies at Spurs

D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images
The Memphis Grizzlies hope to end their Western Conference First Round series against the Spurs tonight in San Antonio. A win would give Memphis its first playoff series win in franchise history and lead to a Western Conference Semifinals matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder or Denver Nuggets. Here are a few keys to tonight’s game:

Statistically speaking, teams in the NBA with a 3-1 series lead in the playoffs go on to win 95.9 percent of the time. Realistically speaking, most of those teams didn’t play the top-seeded Spurs. The Grizzlies need to continue playing with the focus they’ve demonstrated in the playoffs thus far and not get caught up in their series lead. The fact remains that a No.8 seed has defeated a No.1 only once in a seven-game series in the playoffs (2007 Golden State Warriors). For San Antonio to come back, though, they would have to send Memphis to three-straight losses, something that hasn’t happened since Dec. 17-21, 2010. The Grizzlies can feel good about where they’re at, so long as they don’t let their guard down.

In the first four games of the series, the Grizzlies have done a good job of keeping future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan quiet, holding the four-time champion to a playoff career-low 12.8 points per game. Marc Gasol has had a lot to do with Duncan’s limited productivity, as the Grizzlies big man’s stellar defense has limited the Spurs’ leader. Gasol has been doing it on both ends this series, averaging 15.5 points while ranking fourth in the NBA Playoffs in rebounds (11.0) and field goal percentage (.568).

Regardless of tonight’s result, the Grizzlies will return home to FedExForum, either for Game 6 on Friday or Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Grab your growl towel and stay tuned to tonight for updates on how to purchase tickets to the Grizzlies’ next playoff home game.