The 9-10 game in the Play-In Tournament takes the tagline of "win or go home" literally.
The only way one of the teams can advance is if they win both their games while elimination awaits them after a loss.
In the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies host the San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzlies are hoping to make it back to the playoffs after a three-year absence while the Spurs attempt to begin a new postseason streak after their absence last year snapped their 22-year consecutive playoff appearances streak.
Where to Watch
Date: Thursday, May 20
Time: 5:00 a.m. IST
Location: FedExForum, Memphis, TN
These two teams are quite similar in many ways.
Heavily dependent on depth, the Grizzlies and Spurs both have deep, productive rosters with at least seven players averaging double-digit points for the season. The Spurs have as many as eight.
Both are led by a playmaking All-Star caliber player: Ja Morant in Memphis (19.1 PPG, 7.4 APG) and DeMar DeRozan (21.6 PPG, 6.9 APG) in San Antonio. Both teams take care of the ball well, ranking in the top-10 for turnovers, but both are near the bottom of the league in 3-point shooting percentage.
Where Memphis separates itself is its defence and the presence of Jonas Valanciunas.
The Grizzlies defence ranks seventh in the league. They lead the league in steals, which in turn powers their offence as they lead the league in fastbreak points while ranking third in points off turnovers.
Valanciunas has been an absolute beast for the Grizzlies this season, averaging career-highs of 17.1 points and 12.5 rebounds. He's a huge reason why Memphis leads the league in points scored in the paint at 55.8 per game. His 48 double-doubles are tied for third-most this season and only Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic have more. At one point, he registered 16 consecutive double-doubles to set a new franchise record.
Where the Spurs stand out in this matchup is playoff experience.
The veteran duo of DeRozan and Patty Mills have a combined 148 games of postseason experience while every key rotation player, including Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Jakob Poeltl, have appeared in two postseason series and played at least 10 games.
Other than their Play-In Game against the Portland Trail Blazers last year, the same can't be said of the Grizzlies. With the majority of their roster under 25, they have close to no experience of playing in the playoffs. Only Valanciunas (43 games) and Kyle Anderson (30) have logged respectable playoff miles.
This experience holds true even when it comes to head coaches. While not much needs to be said of Gregg Popovich's championship-filled resume, Taylor Jenkins is still be warming up to this playoff experience despite being an assistant to Mike Budenholzer through his days in Atlanta and Milwaukee until 2019.
All of the three contests between these two teams were decided by double-figures with Memphis holding the 2-1 advantage, winning its games by a combined margin of 48 points, including a 31-point home win on Feb. 1.
Neither team was at full strength in either of these three games.
Not yet submitted by either team.
Spread: Grizzlies -3.5 (-110), Spurs +3.5 (-110)
Grizzlies money line: -165
Spurs money line: +145
Over/Under: 225.0 (-110)
Odds courtesy of William Hill Sports Book
Picks and Predictions
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Memphis Grizzlies
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Memphis Grizzlies
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Memphis Grizzlies
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): San Antonio Spurs
Kane Pitman (@KanePitman): San Antonio Spurs
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Memphis Grizzlies
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