The Memphis Grizzlies are coming a solid win over the reigning champion Mavericks. In even better news, Zach Randolph appears to be on schedule in his rehabilitation. Memphis currently holds the 7th seed in the Western Conference, but is only half a game behind Dallas and Houston, and a full game behind the Lakers. The Grizzlies will be eager to leapfrog several teams, and tonight represents a great starting point for that goal.
After years of poor rebounding and poor defense, the Toronto Raptors have improved considerably in both, especially in rebounding. Much of this improvement has been attributed to new coach Dwane Casey. Unlike his predecessor, Jay Triano, Casey demands effort on the defensive end of the floor and it is showing results. Unfortunately, their offense--the team's biggest strength--has regressed. Some of this is due to the absence of the team's best player, Andrea Bargnani, due to the injury.
Memphis (20-15) at Toronto (11-24)
7:00 P.M. ET at Air Canada Centre
Keys to the game:
1. Turnovers/Steals: The Raptors are somewhat careless with the ball, which is surprising considering that Jose Calderon, who consistently ranks at the top of the league in assist-to-turnover ratio, is their floor leader. This bodes well for Memphis, whose defense relies on forcing turnovers. Ultimately, if Toronto does not take care of the basketball, they will quickly find themselves in a large deficit.
2. Consistency: Other than Bargnani, Toronto lacks plays who can consistently perform well on the offensive end. That being said, on those nights when DeMar DeRozan, Leandro Barbosa, and Linas Kleiza get hot, the Raptors become a difficult opponent.
3. Marc Gasol: The most interesting matchup tonight will probably occur at the five spot. Marc Gasol is coming off both an All-Star nod and a dominating performance against the Mavericks. On the other side, the Raptors have a number of solid bigmen to throw at Gasol. Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, and Jamaal Magloire are solid defensively. However, none of them poses much of a threat on the offensive end. If the Raptors' bigmen don't make Gasol work on the defensive end, he will be free to dominate on offense.
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