Last Meeting: W 105-88, Tayshaun Prince 18 points, 8-8 FG
Can games on a random Monday night be considered trap games? If so, this is definitely one.
Coming off of a 2-2 road trip, the Memphis Grizzlies are facing a Minnesota Timberwolves team who is coming off of a victory over the New Orleans Hornets. Most importantly, after playing with substitute parts for most of the year, they're finally getting their key players back as Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic returned from injury last night. So the mood in the locker room should certainly be up and they'll be ready to play.
As for the Memphis Grizzlies, the team is looking to round back into their current winning forms. And with a tough schedule ahead for the next two weeks ( vs. OKC, @ NOH, vs. BOS, @ WAS, @ NYK, vs. HOU, @ MIN), a win against one of the lesser teams in the NBA would be a great way to grab momentum especially as the race for the third seed in the Western Conference is getting tighter.
Keys to Victory:
Make the Timberwolves Shoot:
When it comes to 3-point shooting some teams have it and some teams don't: fortunately for the Grizzlies the T'Wolves are one of the teams that don't have it. As of today, the Wolves are currently the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA, shooting 29.9 percent from behind the arc. Surely the Grizzlies know this, so there efforts to keep Minny's shooters behind the arc will be shown. Going under screens, shading toward the paint and packing the paint on defense are several ways the Griz can tempt the T'Wolves into shooting threes. No Minnesota player shoots higher than 35 percent from three (J.J. Barea), so this should be fairly easy.
Keep Derrick Williams In Check
Whom most are quick to call a bust after having a lackluster NBA career after almost two seasons, Derrick Williams is currently having the best stretch of his career. Over the last ten games, Williams has averaged 18 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 43 percent from the field. And coming off his best game of the season against NOH (28 points [3-5 from three] and 7 rebounds), it'll be up to Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince to get him out of this groove and blanket him. Over the last ten, 33% of his shots have come from the restricted area, but with the lack of perimeter help around him and Marc Gasol defending the paint, it should be relatively easy to keep him at bay tonight.
Get the Bench Going
Against Utah Jerry Bayless led the team in scoring with 24 points. The bench scored 28 combined. That's not going to get the job done in any game. Quincy Pondexter has been the bench's best player all season. The team can't have another 0 point efforts from him. And with Darrell Arthur's return unlikely tonight, maybe Austin Daye will get a little more playing time. But overall, this group, which has been the Grizzlies achilles heel over the last few seasons, has to continue to be effective especially with the playoffs around the corner.
In the NBA the better team wins most of the time, so I've the Grizzlies beating Minny 102-88.
MEM: Tony Wroten (migraine) - Questionable, Darrell Arthur (sore neck/back) - Out
MIN: Kevin Love (hand) - Out, Chase Budinger (knee) - Out, Brandon Roy (knee) - Out