For teams battling for playoff position in the tightly packed Western Conference, each game in the final week of the season could have a dramatic impact on the final standings.
The Spurs look to improve their playoff outlook Friday night with their 11th straight home win over their Southwest Division rivals.
The West’s playoff field is set, but the order is far from decided with the season ending Wednesday. San Antonio (48-30) is locked in a three-way tie with Portland and Oklahoma City for the last three seeds, but the Spurs could finish as high as No. 2.
San Antonio didn’t help its cause with a 112-101 loss at Phoenix on Wednesday night. The Spurs missed 11 free throws in the first half and finished with 18 turnovers to the Suns’ nine while losing for the first time in five games.
“There were too many things that we could have taken care of that were simple,” said forward Tim Duncan(notes), who scored 14 points and went 4 of 7 from the line. “Just turning the ball over, missed free throws. We had a bunch of missed assignments defensively. That’s a lot of things that we can clean up. It’s a disappointing game for us, but such is life. We’ve got another one in two days.”
The Spurs have to like their chances of bouncing back in their return to the AT&T Center, where they’ve won nine of 10 with victories over Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Cleveland and Orlando. The lone loss in that stretch came against the conference-best Los Angeles Lakers.
The Spurs have also dominated the Grizzlies in San Antonio, winning 23 of 28 all-time meetings and taking the last 10 by an average of 10.6 points. Duncan had 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 104-97 win in the season’s first meeting at AT&T Center on Jan. 29.
O.J. Mayo(notes) led Memphis with 28 points in that game. The second-year guard is averaging 24.1 points and shooting 53.4 percent in seven career games against the Spurs, and he’s scored 29.7 points per contest while shooting 60.7 percent in three games in San Antonio.
Mayo was held to 11 points and the Grizzlies recorded their lowest total in two months in a 110-84 loss at Dallas on Wednesday night. It was Memphis’ third straight defeat and sixth in seven games.
“You can’t quit,” point guard Mike Conley(notes) said. “We have goals like making the playoffs, and we understand that we aren’t in it, but we still have to be able to play no matter who we are playing or no matter who is out on the court. We have to play at 100 percent effort and we didn’t bring that tonight.”
Conley is averaging 17.9 points and 5.9 assists over the last seven games.
San Antonio point guard Tony Parker(notes) has averaged 9.0 points and 3.5 assists in two games off the bench after missing a month with a broken finger. Parker, who suffered the injury in a 102-92 win at Memphis on March 6, has totaled 12 points and seven assists in two games against the Grizzlies.