The Memphis Grizzlies are traveling to San Antonio to face off with the Spurs two days after firing head coach David Fizdale amidst a 7-12 record including an eight game losing skid. That is the longest losing streak for the franchise in eight seasons. The Grizzlies awarded J. B. Bickerstaff the interim head coaching position until GM Chris Wallace recruits a replacement for the position or rewards Bickerstaff with the position permanently. The firing transpired a day after Fizdale’s relationship with the Grizzlies All-Star center Marc Gasol turmoiled to it’s lowest point when Fizdale benched Gasol for the entire fourth quarter during Sunday’s home loss to the Brooklyn Nets. After the game, Gasol expressed his frustration with being benched.
“It’s a first for me, trust me, and I don’t like it one bit,” Gasol said. I’m more [ticked] than I can show and frustrated.”
Fizdale’s impulsive firing came as a surprise and Gasol took the heat for it due to the timing of the firing happening less than 24 hours after his post game interview. Wallace did come at Gasol’s defense as he shut down any indication that Gasol is a “coach killer”
“There were bigger trends than just the relationship between the two of them,” Wallace said Tuesday. “It just hasn’t been going well for us after a good start. And there was no indication that it was going to change magically any time soon.”
Regardless of the coaching change, it’s hard to expect a turnaround from this team without their point guard and best player Mike Conley who still has no timetable on his return as he rests an ailing achilles tendon.
The Spurs defeated the Mavs on Monday in veteran point guard Tony Parker’s season debut. It was Parker’s first game since May 3 during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals when he tore his right quadriceps tendon versus. Parker was overwhelmed to start off but was able to quickly settle into the game.
“A little bit like my first game when I was rookie,” Parker said, adding that he almost shed some tears. “But when I saw the crowd getting excited when I got the ball just to bring it up, I got excited. It got me right away, (to be) motivated and be aggressive.”
The Spurs will look at Wednesday’s game as another building block towards in search of a length win streak to keep the Spurs at a good pace to remain one of the league’s best teams until superstar Kawhi Leonard returns from the same injury as Tony Parker which could happen within “two or three weeks” according to Parker’s expectations.
This will be the first time these teams meet this season. Last season the home team won each game as they split their season series at two wins each. They ended up meeting again in the playoffs where the Spurs prevailed in six games.
The Spurs are 10-0 this season when eclipsing 100 points and tonight will make it 11-0. Spurs will win 104-92.