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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Dallas Mavericks: Game Preview

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When it rains, it pours. The Memphis Grizzlies continue to fall into a pit of despair that includes execution lapses and injuries to seemingly any and everyone wearing the blue of Beale Street. The Grizzlies attempt to stop the proverbial bleeding tonight against the Dallas Mavericks, who will surely not take pity on this weakened Memphis roster.

Ed Davis and the other Memphis bigs will be depended on heavily tonight.
Ed Davis and the other Memphis bigs will be depended on heavily tonight.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
2013/2014 NBA Season
10-14 (5-4 road)
Lost 4
14-10 (10-2 home)
Won 1
December 18th, 2013
American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX
7:30 PM CST
Fox SportSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Jerryd Bayless
PG Jose Calderon
Tony Allen
SG Monta Ellis
Tayshaun Prince SF Shawn Marion
Zach Randolph PF Dirk Nowitzki
Kosta Koufos C DeJuan Blair
2013/14 Advanced Stats
93.0 (30th) Pace 98.8 (7th)
99.2 (21st) OEff 104.1 (9th)
104.5 (27th) DEff 103.2 (19th)

Injury Report-

Memphis- Mike Conley (Day-to-Day, Thigh) Tayshaun Prince (Day-to-Day, Knee) Mike Miller (Day-to-Day, Ankle) Marc Gasol (Out, Knee) Quincy Pondexter (Out, Foot)

Dallas- Dirk Nowitzki (Day-to-Day, Illness) Devin Harris (Out, Toe)

More on the Mavs: Mavs Moneyball

Misery does indeed love company, it would seem.

At least in the case of the Memphis Grizzlies. Injuries continue to mount after last night's 96-92 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Mike Conley sat, and comments from Dave Joerger made it seem as if he would likely sit out through the weekend. Mike Miller rolled his ankle, Tayshaun Prince has a sore knee and the Grizzlies lost to a Lakers team without a point guard. The hole that the Grizzlies are digging to bury their season continues to get bigger by the game.

The crazy thing is, it came down to execution, not injury, costing Memphis another opportunity for a victory. Whether it was an Ed Davis bobbled ball on a fast break, a Tony Allen brain fart on a saved ball out of bounds or missed lay-ups, finishing plays and making smart decisions is what truly cost this Grizzlies team against the Lakers. Going forward, as the long but distinguished list of the 2013 inductees into the Memphis Grizzlies' "Hall of Pain" grows, the Bears of Beale Street will not be able to make these mistakes if they hope to win games. The margin for error is gone; execution has to be the priority.

There is no rest for the weary members of Grizz Nation, as Memphis hits the road for the second game of a back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas is firmly in the hunt for the playoffs as the season heads toward the new year behind great seasons from Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. The Mavericks are well coached and the last time the Grizzlies went to Dallas, with a much healthier roster, the Mavericks dominated the Grizzlies behind 24 points from Dirk and 14 Shawn Marion rebounds. Both teams look a bit different this time around, and those changes could make all the difference.

How can the Grizzlies find a way to pull out a win in even the most adverse of situations? 3 keys...

Bigs Be Big

With the injuries to the wings mounting, the four healthy Memphis bigs have to have a great showing this evening if the Grizzlies want a win in Big D. Zach Randolph cannot shoot 7-22 for that to happen. Jon Leuer, while having a great offensive stretch, needs to be more sound on the defensive end of the floor. Ed Davis has shown some positive growth, continues to have issues handling the basketball. Kosta Koufos has struggled the past few games, and in a match-up with DeJuan Blair or Dirk Nowitzki needs to be aggressive, either taking advantage of a shorter Blair or getting Nowitzki in foul trouble and on the bench.

Calderon? More Like Cold-eron

As one of the most efficient three point shooters in the NBA, Jose Calderon could really cause a team like the Grizzlies, who has struggled defending the three all season long. Jerryd Bayless and Nick Calathes need to be sound in their defense, fighting over the top of screens and keeping Calderon in front of them at all times. Good defense does not always have to mean no shots; too often teams take uncontested jumpers against the Grizzlies, which for a player like Calderon is like shooting fish in a barrel. Good positioning, quick footwork and a hand in the face can do wonders in terms of throwing off a shooter's technique and timing. Dirk and Ellis will likely score; the Grizzlies cannot allow Calderon to get in on the fun.

Time to Grind, Son

The injuries have led to the Grizzlies rookie Jamaal Franklin getting more playing time. Last night against the Lakers, Franklin shot 0-5 with 2 rebounds and an assist in 21 minutes. As the "Grindson" fits into this new role with at least reduced minutes for Mike Miller and Tayshaun Prince, if they play at all, he will have to find ways to be more effective. Franklin has an underrated post game for a wing, as well as athleticism and the ability to attack the basket. The Grizzlies will have to find ways to get him involved and play to his strengths when he is in, as he will be depended on for offensive production. Opportunity is knocking. Hopefully Jamaal will answer the door.

The Grizzlies will have to execute much better, especially in crunch time, if they hope to win close games.

The Prediction

This game has all the makings of a let down. Second night of a back-to-back, banged up, tough loss the night before. With Tony Allen and Zach Randolph in the fold, however, you have a chance, and the energy and fight last night was not the issue. The Grizzlies will execute, finding ways to get Jon Leuer and Jamaal Franklin more involved in the offense while limiting the Mavericks defensively. Grit and Grind will make a much needed appearance tonight.

Memphis 98, Dallas 96