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Preview: Grizzlies vs. Spurs

March 27, 2011

With the playoff race heating up the Memphis Grizzlies welcome the San Antonio Spurs to FedExForum today for a special matinee contest. Each game is pivotal for the Grizzlies the rest of the way, but with the Spurs representing the final elite team on the Grizzlies slate of games during the 2010-11 season, this one tonight is very important. This contest could go a long way towards determining whether the Grizzlies are able to lock down one of the final positions and have breathing room or if the race will go down to the last few days of the regular season. The Grizzlies have fared well against the Spurs thus far this season, taking them to overtime on Dec. 18 and then playing them close on Feb. 27 before blowing them out on March 1. Tonight they’ll be looking to even the score against a team that they could very well be facing in the first round of the playoffs. The Spurs have a comfortable five game lead over the Lakers for the top spot in the Western Conference, so picking up a win tonight certainly means more to the overall scope of the season to Memphis than it does to San Antonio. With Tim Duncan sitting due to a sprained left ankle that could hold him out right up until the start of the postseason the Grizzlies have to look to take advantage of San Antonio’s interior early and often. The Grizzlies recent split of two games against the best in the Eastern Conference should give this squad a lot of confidence heading into tonight’s contest.

Here are a few things to watch for in tonight’s contest…

More to play for, but…:
As mentioned before, with the Grizzlies clinging to the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff standings and the Spurs holding a comfortable five game advantage it would make sense that the Grizzlies would come out as the aggressor tonight. The only catch to that is the last time these two teams met the Grizzlies thumped San Antonio 109-93, and a proud team like San Antonio is certainly going to be looking for revenge for that contest. With a potential First Round matchup between these two teams looming, the Spurs could be looking to send a message tonight against the upstart Grizzlies.

Stat of the night:
The Grizzlies are currently 9-6 against the top four teams in the Western Conference (San Antonio, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder) and will look to improve on that record tonight.

Matchup of the night:
The matchup to keep an eye on tonight is definitely going to be at the shooting guard spot, where All-Defensive Team candidate Tony Allen will look to shut down San Antonio’s leading scorer, Manu Ginobili. In the Grizzlies win over the Spurs on March 1, Allen held Ginobili to just nine points after he went off for 35 points against Memphis the contest before.