8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
FedExForum, Memphis, TN
Line: Memphis by 9.0
Opponent Blog: SLC Dunk
Injury Report: UTA: Paul Millsap DTD; MEM: Tony Allen DTD
Tonight, the Grizzlies seek to attain their seventh straight home win as the Utah Jazz come to Memphis to compete in the last game of the season series. If the Grizzlies leave with a win tonight, it will be the team's first seven-game home win-streak since an 11-game run from December 18, 2009 to January 25, 2010.
Though, this isn't exactly what's truly important tonight - what IS important is the fact that the Grizzlies are 1.5 games behind the Clippers in the race for home-court advantage in the first round and, with tonight, are beginning argulably the most important stretch of the season with six games in the next eight days.
The Jazz are in the middle of a rough stretch and are coming into Memphis after Friday night's 96-85 loss to New Orleans. Paul Missap led the team with 27 points and Al Jefferson added 19 of his own, but Devin Harris and Gordon Hayward combined for only 11 on 4-of-15 shooting. The Jazz watched the Hornets shoot fifty percent in the second half.
Memphis has been playing stellar basketball as of late, winning four out of the last five. The four-game win streak came to an end with a 107-97 loss in San Antonio, but has done no damage on the teams recent surge. It has been said over and over again, and will remain true: NOBODY wants to play Memphis right now.
Keys to the Game
(1) Zach Randolph vs. Al Jefferson
Though it is a subject up for much debate, Coach Lionel Hollins has agreed that Zach Randolph will continue to come off the bench and play as primarily a reserve player. In his last outing, Zach Randolph had 10 points and 11 rebounds. In his last five efforts, Randolph has seen four double-doubles.
In previous contests this season between Utah and Memphis, Memphis has averaged only 86.5 points. Utah has shot 50.6 percent and has outscored the Grizzlies by 22 points in the paint. Al Jefferson has averaged 20.5 points and 12.0 rebounds.
What makes tonight different, though, is the fact that Randolph will be there to stand against Jefferson. Things will be different. If Randolph plays his game, Jefferson can't play around in the paint like he has this season.
(2) Rudy Gay and Mike Conley
In last Wednesday's game against Phoenix, Mike Conley chipped in 12 points and a team-high seven assists. Rudy Gay scored a season-high 32 points as the Grizzlies beat the Suns in a solid win. The game allows Gay to boast scoring at least 20 points in 26 of the last 47 games played, after doing so just once in the team's first nine contests. When Rudy Gay scores at least 20 points, Memphis stands 19-8 this season.
When Rudy Gay and Mike Conley are firing, the duo formidably leads the team to victories. The momentum must continue in the Western Conference's playoff race.
The Grizzlies are simply too hot right now and the Jazz too messy. With Memphis playing solid basketball, the win will produce itself.
Final Prediction: Utah 85, Memphis 94
GameThread up and running tonight @ 8PM. I'll be there. See you then.