The two powers in the Southwest Division collide on Wednesday night when the first-place San Antonio Spurs host the Memphis Grizzlies.
The two teams split their previous two meetings this season, with each team winning on its home court. The Grizzlies bested the Spurs in overtime Friday night in Memphis.
Rudy Gay missed two late free throws in regulation, but hit the go-ahead jumper with 27.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Grizzlies a 101-98 victory.
Two days later, the Spurs topped the Minnesota Timberwolves at home, but the win came at a price. Manu Ginobili injured his hamstring in the second quarter against the T-Wolves and an MRI on Monday revealed a Grade 1 left hamstring strain. He will be out of action 10-14 days.
"Have trust and faith in our guys that we'll be able to pick up the slack for Manu," said Danny Green. "He's been playing well for us. It sucks that he got hurt."
The Spurs will certainly miss Ginobili, but the comfy confines of AT&T Center should help. San Antonio owns the best home record in the NBA at 16-2 and a win on Wednesday would allow the Spurs to become the league's third 30-win team alongside the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers.
The Grizzlies come into Wednesday's huge clash losers of two straight. They fell in Dallas to the Mavericks, 104-83, on Saturday night, then got clobbered at home by the Los Angeles Clippers, 99-73, on Monday. Rudy Gay missed the Clippers game for personal reasons, but the Clippers were without one of their stars, Chris Paul.
The Clippers held Memphis to a season-low in points and 30-percent shooting from the field. That was the third-lowest field-goal percentage in Grizzlies franchise history.
"We weren't competing on a high level," said head coach Lionel Hollins. "We didn't make shots. We started off shooting poorly and continued shooting poorly."
Only three Grizzlies players reached double figures in scoring, led by 15 from Zach Randolph.
Memphis ranks 25th in the league in scoring, so Gay's expected return should help. The defense, which has been a problem to vary degrees in the last two losses, is second in the NBA, but Wednesday should pose an interesting matchup since the Spurs are third in scoring.
"It's going to be real important," Randolph said of Wednesday's encounter. "They're going to definitely be ready for us. We have to come out, match energy and be ready ourselves."
The Spurs have owned this series in Alamo City. San Antonio has won five straight and 15 of its last 16 at home against the Grizzlies.