Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs (-5.5, 188.5)
The San Antonio Spurs dealt the whole offseason with the pain of just missing the franchise’s fifth NBA title. They take the first steps toward recovery Wednesday when they host the Memphis Grizzlies, the team they swept in the Western Conference finals before losing to the Miami Heat in the oh-so-close championship series. The cores of both teams return, although Memphis has a new coach with former assistant David Joerger taking over for Lionel Hollins.
Both teams are expected to again compete in the talent-laden West, and San Antonio will do its best to shake its postseason heartbreak — but it won’t be easy. “We’re gonna continue to think about it, because it’s going to continue to hurt whether we talk about it or let it go or not,” Spurs star Tim Duncan said at the team’s media day last month. “When the regular season starts and the ball goes up, then we’ve got to focus on a whole ‘nother season.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, SportSouth (Memphis), KENS (San Antonio)
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (2012-13: 56-26, 46-34-2 ATS): Memphis returns all the key pieces from last year’s team that set a franchise record for wins. Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are one of the league’s most formidable frontcourt duos, and Mike Conley has become a dependable point guard. The Grizzlies had a relatively quiet offseason but added big man Kosta Koufos and sharpshooter Mike Miller.
ABOUT THE SPURS (2012-13: 58-24, 39-41-2 ATS): The NBA’s model franchise for consistency didn’t do anything to shake that label in the offseason. Coach Gregg Popovich is back for his 18th season, and Duncan is right behind him with 17. With those two around, San Antonio has long been one of the league’s most difficult destinations for opponents, and that was no different last year when the Spurs went 35-6 at home in the regular season.
* Over is 11-5 in the last 16 meetings in San Antonio.
* Underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Grizzlies are 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings.
1. Popovich has been coaching the Spurs three times longer than the league’s next longest-tenured coach (Eric Spoelstra, who is entering his sixth season in Miami).
2. The Grizzlies have not won a season opener since the franchise moved to Memphis before the 2001-02 season.
3. The teams split their four regular-season games last year.