Memphis Grizzlies vs. New York Knicks Game Preview

With Z-Bo on the block, the Knicks will struggle defending the post. - Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

In a match-up of two teams that were hoping to be in better positions at this point of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies resume their NBA schedule tonight against the New York Knicks. Carmelo Anthony aside, the Beale Street Bears will have to protect the ball if they hope to win this game pitting the two slowest pace teams in the Association against each other.

Game tipoff between Memphis and New York is set for 7:00pm CST, and can be viewed locally on Fox SportsSouth or via local radio on 92.9 FM ESPN.

Check out Posting and Toasting for more on the Knicks.

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2013/2014 NBA Season
vs
29-23 (14-14 home)
Won 2
20-32 (8-14 road)
Lost 2
February 18th, 2014
FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee
7:00 PM CDT
NBATV/Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley
PG Raymond Felton
Courtney Lee SG Pablo Prigioni
Tayshaun Prince SF Iman Shumpert
Zach Randolph PF Carmelo Anthony
Marc Gasol C Tyson Chandler
2013/14 Advanced Stats
91.9 (30th) Pace 92.8 (29th)
102.0 (20th) OEff 103.8 (T-13th)
102.1 (T-9th) DEff 105.8 (25th)

Injury Report:

Memphis: Marc Gasol (Day-to-Day, Knee), Tony Allen (Day-to-Day, Wrist), Quincy Pondexter (Out, Foot) Mike Conley (Returning from an ankle injury)

New York: J.R. Smith (Day-to-Day, Face)

For the Knicks perspective, check out Posting and Toasting.

And they're off!

The end of the NBA season is more of a sprint than a long distance run, especially to the teams playing tonight in the Grindhouse. For the Memphis Grizzlies, 2 games outside the playoffs and 3 games outside of the 6 seed in the Western Conference is not where they thought they would be at this point in the season. Injuries and adjustments to a new head coach have taken their toll.

Not all is lost, however. The Grizzlies have been a very good post All-Star break team the past two seasons, posting records of 23-8 and 22-10 respectfully. The roster is getting healthier than they have been in a long time with a returning Mike Conley, a thankfully going to be OK long term Marc Gasol and a hopefully impending Tony Allen comeback. The additions of Courtney Lee and James Johnson have made the Grizzlies more athletic and dynamic, and the development of Nick Calathes has led Grizzlies fans to believe that the long standing problem of back-up point guard may finally have an answer.

As the Grizzlies trajectory seems to be on the rise, the New York Knicks appear to be on the decline. In 6 games in February the Knicks are 1-6, shooting 68% from the free throw line during that span and allowing opposing teams to shoot 41% from three point land. Despite their struggles, the Knicks still have plenty to play for considering that they are only 3 games out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. With their superstar Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks can certainly make a run, and they hope to do that starting tonight in Memphis.

How can the Grizzlies ensure that doesn't happen? Three keys...

1. Get Tyson Chandler Out of the Lane

The cornerstone of the New York Knicks' defense is Tyson Chandler. Regardless of declining play due to age and health concerns, Chandler still has the length and skill set to disrupt offensive sets and force teams to settle for jumpers outside of the paint. The key to making the Knicks' defense more anemic than it already can be is to get him outside the paint.This allows for Zach to take advantage of Melo on the block and for cutters such as James Johnson and Nick Calathes to get to the rim more efficiently.

Whether it is by Marc Gasol (if he can play) roaming the foul line or by attacking Chandler and getting him in to foul trouble, forcing Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani to play out of position could pay huge dividends for Memphis.

2. No Amar'e Flashbacks

Speaking of Amare, since his return from injury he has been doing his best 5 year ago Amar'e Stoudemire impression. In the past 6 games, Stoudemire is averaging 13 points and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes played. In his last game, against the Kings, he scored 20 and grabbed 8 boards with 2 blocks in 37 minutes of play. Amar'e will likely see a majority of his time on the court against the likes of Kosta Koufos and possibly Ed Davis. It will be up to the bench bigs to keep Amar'e under control and not allow for him to build up any confidence.

3. Zach Randolph, Carmelo Killer

While having Carmelo Anthony at the Power Forward position is often an advantage from a scoring perspective for the Knicks, on nights like tonight it can be less advantageous. Zach Randolph dominated the Knicks in their previous meeting this season, going for 25 points and 15 rebounds at Madison Square Garden in a Grizzlies victory. Any time Carmelo is defending Zach, the ball should at least touch his hands.

If Zach can take advantage of Melo early, the Knicks will either have to move him to the 3 or have Chandler or another bigger body defend Zach. Neither of these options mean sustained success for the Knicks. Z-Bo, well rested coming off of the All-Star break, should have a big night.

The Prediction

The Knicks and Grizzlies are the two slowest PACE teams in the NBA. This will be a battle of attrition, and in a game where possessions will be limited it will come down to protecting the basketball and working through the post. Zach Randolph will dominate whoever the Knicks have at the 4 and the Grizzlies will welcome back Mike Conley with a victory at the Grindhouse.

Memphis 95, New York 90

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