The two teams will battle it out for the chance to take on the loser of the No. 8 vs. No. 7 match between the Golden State Warriors and the LA Lakers.
The experience of the San Antonio Spurs will play a huge part in Wednesday's matchup, but one has to wonder if it’s enough to get them past the hungry Memphis Grizzlies. The Spurs were on a four-game losing streak to end the regular season and have won just two of their last 12 games.
The Memphis Grizzlies, on the other hand, won five consecutive games before losing 113-101 to the Golden State Warriors in the last game of their regular season. The Grizzlies could have taken the West’s eighth spot had they won that game, but they now need to win at least two straight games to make the playoffs.
Fixture - San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Wednesday, May 19th, 7:30 PM ET (Thursday, May 20th, 5:00 AM IST)
Venue - FedExForum, Memphis, TN
San Antonio Spurs Preview
The San Antonio Spurs have not been themselves for more than two weeks. Tim Duncan’s induction to the Hall of Fame on Saturday, with Popovich in attendance, was a painful reminder of the good times for Spurs fans. Now, it feels as if the team is merely going through the motions before a full rebuild.
Nevertheless, the San Antonio Spurs are one of the most resilient teams in the NBA. They have young and talented players such as Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV and Keldon Johnson, who are itching to showcase their wares in the postseason. Meanwhile, seasoned veterans DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay will not be easily rattled by the pressure.
Against the Memphis Grizzlies, they are likely going to employ the same strategy that the Warriors used on Ja Morant — sag off him and dare him to shoot the three.
Key Player - DeMar DeRozan
If there’s a player who the San Antonio Spurs will depend on to carry them through to the playoffs over the Memphis Grizzlies, it is DeMar DeRozan.
The 11-year veteran recorded a career-high 6.9 assists per game this season while also putting up 21.6 points and 4.2 rebounds.
The unassuming leader of the San Antonio Spurs is unselfish to a fault, but he is capable of huge scoring nights when necessary. He has 11 games of 30 or more points this season and may have to channel these kinds of performances into Wednesday's game. Look for the four-time All-Star to be aggressive from the get-go.
San Antonio Spurs Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Dejounte Murray l Shooting Guard - Lonnie Walker IV l Small Forward - DeMar DeRozan l Power Forward - Keldon Johnson l Center - Jakob Poeltl
Memphis Grizzlies Preview
The Memphis Grizzlies strung together a hot streak just in time to keep them in the playoff hunt. From the start of their recent winning streak to the final day of the regular season, the Grizzlies were the fourth-best defensive team in the league. They’ll have to bank on their defense to get them into the postseason as their offense was merely 13th overall during that stretch.
Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas are the team’s cornerstones, but the entire starting five, consisting of Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson and Jaren Jackson Jr., are solid pieces as well.
Jackson, in particular, could be the X-factor against the San Antonio Spurs, but it remains to be seen how good he can be in a pressure-packed game like this.
Key Player - Ja Morant
It was painful to watch Ja Morant mess up shot after shot from three, only for the ball to repeatedly just graze the rim during Sunday's encounter with the Golden State Warriors.
He made just 1-of-6 from the three-point arc and 7-of-21 overall in the Memphis Grizzlies' tough loss.
The San Antonio Spurs’ Popovich once dared a young LeBron James to beat them from the perimeter in the 2007 Finals, and it paid off. He will likely do the same against the Memphis Grizzlies' Morant, who will have to shoot from the perimeter confidently and make the Spurs pay for leaving him open.
The Memphis Grizzlies guard is averaging 19.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game for the season. His matchup with the San Antonio Spurs' Dejounte Murray will be one to watch out for.
Memphis Grizzlies Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Ja Morant l Shooting Guard - Dillon Brooks l Small Forward - Kyle Anderson l Power Forward - Jaren Jackson Jr. l Center - Jonas Valanciunas
Spurs vs Grizzlies Match Prediction
The Memphis Grizzlies are fortunate to be playing on their homecourt for their play-in tournament game against the San Antonio Spurs. It works in their favor, especially with so many players who have never been to the postseason before. This is the closest they have come so far, and they appear ready for the match.
This looks like the last hurrah for the San Antonio Spurs this season, as the Memphis Grizzlies will likely beat them based on talent and defensive capability.