Pre-game notes: Spurs walkin’ in Memphis

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It’s been a while since the Spurs were seriously tested — the Warriors didn’t have Steph Curry, so that didn’t count — but the Grizz present quite the challenge for San Antonio’s currently struggling offense.

Yes, Memphis is back to its old tricks. The Grizzlies are once again playing with the pace of a covered wagon on their current four-game winning streak, and they’re putting up numbers similar to what they established last season during their regular season and playoff run. They’re outscoring teams by 10.2 points per 100 possessions and they’re rebounding at an elite level.

The Grizzlies had a bit of an identity crisis to begin the season, especially as they transitioned from Lionel Hollins’ old-school approach to new guy Dave Joerger and a numbers-driven front office. But this team seems to remember who they are and where they came from, at least over the last four games.

We’ve seen this matchup many times before, and it’s really not gonna be much different. But just a few things to watch out for:

  • Tony Allen is back on the court after kicking fools in the face. IN THE FAAAAACE!

“piiiYYYAAAH!” Courtesy of SB Nation.

  • Memphis still can’t shoot from the perimeter. The Grizzlies are firing away at a clip of 31.6 percent, good for fifth worst in the league.
  • Weirdly enough for an organization that’s now stressing the implementation of analytics, the Grizzlies shoot a ton of mid-range jumpers. They take more shots from the 16-to-24 feet area than any other team in the league. But unlike teams such as the Pacers, Thunder and Blazers, they’re mediocre in terms of mid-range percentages.
  • When the Grizz are successful, it’s typically because they’re playing good defense and rebounding the ball exceptionally well. During their four-game winning streak they have a higher rebounding percentage (54.5) than anyone in the league, so you can see why they’re winning.
  • Memphis is back in the top five in terms of defensive-efficiency rating during their streak. They’ve been holding opponents to 95.5 points per 100 possessions over the last four games.
  • Z-Bo is back. Zach Randolph is averaging 24.3 points and 12 rebounds per game over the last four. His matchup with Duncan will be the one to watch.

Going up against this Grizzlies defense will provide a serious barometer test for the Spurs’ offense. You’d expect San Antonio’s defense to be up to the task tonight, as well, so I wouldn’t expect any high-scoring affair in this one. Just a good old-fashioned Spurs – Grizz street fight.

Courtesy of SB Nation.

Good luck to everyone on their Friday night. Remember, the game is on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.