Grizzlies prepare for Game 6 showdown at home
Catch tonight's game on SportSouth, WRBO-103.5FM or ESPN. Take a look at broadcast satellite channel listings.
The Memphis Grizzlies will look to make history tonight at FedExForum as they attempt to close out the San Antonio Spurs in front of their home crowd. The Grizzlies came within a Gary Neal three-pointer of sealing up their First Round series with the Thunder early on Wednesday. There is a lot of talk right now about the mental state of these two teams. Are the Grizzlies deflated or angry about the way they lost Game 5? Are the Spurs at the end of their run, with Game 5 proving as their last stand, or were Neal’s heroics just what they needed to revitalize a proud group? The members of Grizz Nation will get their answers to these questions tonight, and the feel and tempo of the game will likely be established early.
The Grizzlies will want to jump on San Antonio from the start, create a lead and allow their fans, who have been as raucous as any in the league during the postseason, to carry them the rest of the way. The Spurs will look to weather any initial push from the Grizzlies and establish a slower pace than the last time these two teams met on the FedExForum floor. Whatever the result, the Grizzlies can take solace in the fact that they have one more game of wiggle room if a Game 7 is necessary in San Antonio. The Grizzlies players, coaches and fans are likely wanting to avoid that possibility at all costs, as they look to spark what could be the greatest post-game party Beale Street has ever seen.
Here are a few things to watch for in tonight’s contest…
Pressure, what pressure?: There is a prevailing thought that tonight’s game should be treated like a Game 7 for the Grizzlies because they don’t want to go back to San Antonio to face the Spurs in a Game 7. This opinion is not in sync, however, with the way this Grizzlies team has grown as a unit this season. They believe that they can beat any team on any court at any time. They will compete tonight and expect to win. If this series happens to go to a Game 7 they will compete in that game and expect to win. This team expects to win every game, every night, which makes them such a dangerous group and has put them in the position that they are in today. So don’t expect this team to wilt under the pressure of a closeout Game 6. Expect this group to thrive.
Stat of the night: In the Tim Duncan era, the Spurs have never won a series after being down 3-1 nor have they advanced after losing two of the first three games despite having homecourt advantage.
Matchup of the night: The matchup to keep an eye on tonight will be at the shooting guard spot, where Manu Ginobili could hold the keys to the series as it is reaching its end. While still ailing from a right elbow injury that kept him out of Game 1, Ginobili seems to be getting used to the brace that he has been wearing this series. With Tim Duncan’s offensive game in decline and Richard Jefferson’s production this series being spotty at best, the Spurs best offense is to rely on their backcourt pairing of Ginobili and Tony Parker. If Tony Allen can slow down Ginobili and prevent him from getting easy baskets early the Spurs will be stretched to find offensive weapons in this game.