Grizzlies vs. Mavericks- Preseason Home Opener Preview

Will Z-Bo Be Lined Up Tonight Against Dirk? - Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After a loss in the first preseason game, the Grizzlies return home for the first time since Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to take on the Dallas Mavericks. The Grindhouse is back, but who will be on its court tonight? And will its inhabitants take better care of the glass and ball than they did against the Bulls?

DALLAS MAVERICKS VS. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Where- Memphis, Tennessee- FedEx Forum 7 PM CST

How You Can Watch/Listen- NO TV, 92.9 ESPN Memphis

Probable Starters-

Dallas Mavericks- Gal Mekel, Monta Ellis, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Samuel Dalembert.

Memphis Grizzlies- Mike Conley, Jerryd Bayless, Mike Miller, Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos

Injury Report-

Dallas- Shane Larkin (out), Devin Harris (out), Jose Calderon (day-to-day.)

Memphis- None.

Tonight the Grizzlies come back home to the FedEx Forum to continue their preseason slate against a familiar foe, the divisional rival Dallas Mavericks. There were positives and negatives to draw from this past Monday night against the Bulls, but allow for this preview to be a friendly reminder that this is a veteran team, and that this is the preseason. We know, for the most part, what to expect from the starters. The extended minutes this preseason are not for them. They are for the younger players, the new faces becoming used to the system (including Dave Joerger.) So if the elder statesmen of the Grizzlies do not play much or that well until October 30th, it will not be the end of the world. Take these games for what they are, a feeling out process building up to the Spurs in three weeks. At this point, "the core" knows what to do. Until then, they will tread water and look to San Antonio.

Dallas has some new faces on their roster; aside from Ellis, Mekel, Calderon and Dalembert, players such as DeJuan Blair, Devin Ebanks and two former Grizzlies (Wayne Ellington and Fab Melo) are all new to Dallas this season. As always, though, the Mavericks will go as far as Dirk takes them. His health is imperative to the success of the Mavericks. They will also depend on Vince Carter off the bench to deliver long range scoring and stability. The wild card is Monta Ellis; his ability volume scoring the basketball is undeniable. But how he fits alongside Dirk and the crew will decide whether or not the Mavs are in the fight for one of the last two seeds in the Western Conference playoffs.

Continuing with the five things to look for in tonight's contest.

  1. Who exactly is going to play? Marc Gasol, Quincy Pondexter, Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen sat out the preseason opener, and Coach Joerger has made it clear he plans on resting players throughout not just the preseason, but the season itself. Don't be surprised if, despite the fact the media guide says Miller, JB and Koufos are starting, the four that sat in St. Louis are in the lineup for the home opener. Minutes will continue to be limited, and players like Zach and Mike, who played on Monday, will likely play but in limited time.
  2. Adjustments, adjustments, adjustments. Coach Joerger has been a head coach in the past, sure. But the NBA is a different animal, and seeing his offensive system for the first time in a live game probably had some points of emphasis for improvement. Whether it is through repetition, addition or tweaking scheme, Joerger will continue to poke and prod the offense and lineups to see who fits best with who. For example, Coach Joerger was quoted as saying he liked what he saw from the pairing of Ed Davis and Nick Calathes. Expect to see them together more both in minutes and sets against Dallas.
  3. Who wants a job? After the first preseason game, the three camp invitees fighting for a possible roster spot (Melvin Ely, Willie Reed and Tony Gaffney) did little to separate themselves from a competition standpoint, unless you count Gaffney's alley-oop from Calathes. The Grizzlies are pretty sound at all positions, so in order for one of these guys to stick in Memphis they are going to have to show that they are not only energetic and technically sound, but that they understand scheme and will fit into the system. The fight for a possible roster spot will be a continuing story line in the preseason.
  4. Clean the Glass- While it is only the preseason, the rebound disparity from Monday night (43-31) is still a bit of an eye opener, especially for a Grizzlies team that played Zach Randolph, Ed Davis and Kosta Koufos. Hopefully in film and practice it was made clear that positioning and timing need to be cleaned up so that the boards aren't that lop sided again. In order for the Grizzlies to be successful, dominating the boards needs to be a point of emphasis, regardless of the personnel on the court.
  5. Protect the Rock- Carrying on with that sentiment, turnovers killed this Grizzlies team Monday night. Sloppy basketball at times, which probably has something to do with the focus on pace. When you push the tempo, you get more possessions, and with more possessions come more turnovers naturally. However, as the system gets more and more live work and the team gets used to settling in to offensive sets faster, the ball should move more cleanly. Nick Calathes, Jamaal Franklin and Kosta Koufos in his elbow facilitator role especially need to keep possession of the ball so that possessions aren't wasted and don't become transition baskets for the other team.

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