Game Preview: Grizz vs. Nets

USA TODAY Sports

Grizz look to build on a thrashing of the Lakers by taking down the red-hot Nets

Say what you will about the current state of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Grizzlies’ 106-93 smashing of D’Antoni’s distraught squad was a tremendous shot in the arm with regards to momentum, and showed that despite the tremendous distractions surrounding the team with the front office’s recent moves, the boys in blue can still produce a Grint n Grind effort on the floor.

Friday night the Grizz will need to bring every ounce of that momentum as they host the 26-16 Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets visit the Forum having won 9 of their last 10, including wins over the Knicks, Pacers, and Thunder. Brooklyn’s latest win came Wednesday night in Minneapolis, in a 91-83 contest against the Timberwolves.

The Grizz are 6-4 in their last 10, a number that looks better than it feels, considering that three of those losses were by 20+ points, including drubbings at the hands of the Spurs and Clippers, two of the top Western Conference teams with whom the Grizz are competing for playoff seeding.

That is all in the past though, and the Grizzly team that will take the court Friday night is, quite literally, a new team. Granted, the core remains the same, but the Memphis bench, as we saw Wednesday, is a completely different story.

This remodeled bench will certainly be key in Friday’s matchup against the Nets. It will be interesting to see if the group that was largely responsible for a 20-3 run against the Lakers is actually effective as a unit, or if that stretch in Wednesday’s game was merely a product of the Laker’s inability to defend anyone in shorts and sneakers. Also, with a relatively untested bench, it becomes vital for the Grizz starters to remain out of foul trouble, taking a little stress off of the greener players, allowing those guys to come in and mesh in a situation in which the game is not on the line.

And, speaking of the Grizz starters…those guys have got to come out swinging Friday night. Against the Lakers, Rudy, Marc, and Z-Bo all looked sluggish offensively for the majority of the game. If this type of performance is repeated Friday, the Grizz may find themselves in a tight spot, considering that three of the Nets starters, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez, are averaging over 17 points a game.

Key Matchups:

Brook Lopez vs. Marc Gasol/Hamed Haddadi

Averaging 18.6 ppg and 7.4 rpg, Lopez has proven this year that he can be a high level big man on a contending squad. Gasol has shown time and time again that he can shut down any center in the league defensively, but Marc needs to be aggressive on the offensive end of the court as well Friday night, and maybe get the younger Lopez in early foul trouble. The opposite goes for Hamed: try not to shoot the ball if at all possible, but make Lopez’s night in the paint a nightmare by playing physical basketball.

Mike Conley vs. Deron Williams

Hopefully Mike can carry over some of his 19 point performance from Wednesday, where he was tremendous from the field, shooting 9-14 and 1-2 from three point range. Guarding Deron Williams, however, may pose quite the distraction from another great offensive outing. Williams is going to score, that’s a fact, but if Mike can keep him from taking over the game Chris Paul style he gives the Grizz a good chance of winning. This should prove to be a great matchup

Tony Wroten vs. himself

In his "real" NBA debut, Wroten made several huge plays and became an overnight Memphis sensation. It will be vital for Tony to come out against the Nets and just play within his game and not try to do too much in living up against his performance against the Lakers. You can’t block NBA legends’ shots every night. The NBA season is a long one, young man. Be consistent.

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