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Game 6 Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies

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After being down 18 points in the third quarter, the Memphis Grizzlies fought back against the San Antonio Spurs to bring the game within four early in the fourth. It wasn’t enough, however, and the Spurs went on to win the game 116-103.

The Grizzlies wasted another great game from point guard Mike Conley, who finished with 26 points on 10-17 shooting (58.8 percent), two rebounds and six assists. Marc Gasol also contributed 17 points with five boards and seven assists. However, outside of the duo, the Grizzlies failed to generate much on the offensive end.

The Spurs, on the other hand, seemed to awaken from the funk that plagued them in Game 3 and Game 4. Forward Kawhi Leonard finished with 28 points on 9-16 shooting (56.2 percent), one rebound and six assists while guards Tony Parker and Patty Mills pitched in 16 and 20 points, respectfully.

After a close first half, the Spurs took an 18 point lead early in the third quarter. Conley then began to take over, spearheading a comeback for the Grizzlies and scoring 17 of his 26 points to bring the game to within four. However, when Conley went to the bench early in the fourth, Memphis’ offense quickly fell apart. With Conley off the floor, the Spurs again pulled away despite the best efforts of Gasol, forward JaMychal Green and guard James Ennis III, both of whom finished with 11 points.

“The Spurs did what they do,” said Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale.

The bench played much better for San Antonio in Game 5, finishing with a combined 46 points on the night to the Grizzlies’ 30. Patty Mills led the second unit, shooting 70 percent from the field and 5-7 from three while proving to be a spark for the offense when Leonard and Parker went to the bench. Manu Ginobili managed to score his first points of the series, putting up 10 points on six shots while looking much more confident than he has in previous games. Pau Gasol also added nine points.

With the series shifting back to Memphis for Game 6, the Spurs still have some things they need to address. It was clear from the get-go that San Antonio was trying to get power forward LaMarcus Aldridge—who took 13 shots—going on the offensive end. However, things didn’t go exactly as planned, with Aldridge finishing with only 12 points on five makes. Danny Green, who shot 1-3 in 21 minutes, is still slumping as well. The Spurs are going to need both Aldridge and Green to step up their game if they want to end the series on the road.

For Memphis, there was a clear lack effort in Game 5, especially on the defensive end. “We did not play defense today at all,” Fizdale said. “I thought the fight was in us, I just didn’t think the execution was there.”

If the Grizzlies want to send this series to Game 7, they’re really going to have to get back to what they were doing in Game 3 and Game 4: tough, physical basketball. Zach Randolph had another down game, scoring just nine points on 4-10 shooting, and Memphis is going to need him to step it up if they want to win. They also need to defend Leonard more consistently. Constantly faced with double teams and help defense, Leonard was locked up on offense throughout much of the first quarter, only taking three shots in the first twelve minutes. However, that defense began to slack in the second quarter and seemed almost nonexistent by the end of the game. If the Grizzlies want to disrupt the Spurs’ offense, they’re going to have to continue to bother Leonard early in the shot clock throughout the game. Eliminating the mental mistakes—miscues on both ends of the floor—is a must as well.

Who Wins Game 6?

The Spurs seem to have the momentum after a big win in Game 5. However, going back and winning in the FedExForum—a place they haven’t won all season—won’t be the easiest thing in the world.

The Grizzlies showed signs of life in Game 6, but ultimately, fell well short of beating the Spurs in San Antonio. However, returning to Memphis should give the team a confidence boost and, in front of their fans, they should be able to win Game 6 and send the series back to San Antonio for a decisive Game 7.

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About Shane Rhodes

Shane Rhodes