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Grizzlies host the Atlanta Hawks for their preseason home opener in Memphis

The Memphis Grizzlies play their first home game of the 2014-2015 (Pre)Season Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks. For the city of Memphis, it will be about the first time seeing their beloved Grizzlies in person since May 1st. For the Grizzlies themselves? Health and chemistry will be the main focuses.

Joe Murphy/Getty Images

2014/15 NBA Preseason

vs
2013/14:
38-44 (14-27 road)
2013/14:
50-32 (27-14 home)
October 11th, 2014
FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee
7:00 PM CDT
No Local TV/ 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Jeff Teague PG Mike Conley
Thabo Sefolosha SG Tony Allen
Demarre Carroll SF Quincy Pondexter
Paul Millsap PF Zach Randolph
Elton Brand C Marc Gasol
2013/14 Advanced Stats
96.9 (13th) Pace 92.2 (30th)
103.4 (15th) OEff 103.3 (T-16th)
104.1 (14th) DEff 102.1 (T-7th)

For more info on the Atlanta Hawks, check out Peachtree Hoops.

After two games on the road to start the preseason, the Memphis Grizzlies return to the friendly confines of FedEx Forum for the first time since May 1st and that unfortunate Game 6 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. A new season means moving on, however, and the Bears of Beale Street will no doubt be ready to hear the roar of their fans for the first time in over 5 months.

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The opponent for the evening? The Atlanta Hawks, a team dealing with injury and attempting to find an identity in an Eastern Conference that got a little bit deeper with the moves of this past offseason. 38-44 will likely not be good enough to make the Eastern Conference Playoffs in 2015, so Head Coach Mike Budenholzer and his staff must find a way to improve upon that mark with Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore being their major offseason acquistions.

The biggest roster addition for Atlanta at some point this season will actually be Al Horford, who has recently been cleared for 5 on 5 drill work after tearing his pectoral muscle last season. He plans on playing in the preseason, but Saturday against the Grizzlies is likely too soon to expect a Horford return. Much of the Hawks' hopes this season rest on the health of Horford moving forward, so Atlanta will certainly be cautious with him.

Speaking of health...here are tonight's three things to look for.

1. Space Out the Minutes

This time of year you always hear about how the NBA regular season is a grind, and it is. The journey ahead of the Grizzlies is a marathon, not a sprint. In the 3rd game in 4 nights for Memphis, expect to see the starters for 15-20 minutes to please the fans coming to the game, and then a lot of the bench and training camp invitees. This is not necessarily a bad thing; the starters will almost certainly be players who played together last season a good bit (outside of Quincy Pondexter; more on him later). We don't need to see Conley, Randolph, and Gasol expend themselves in the 2nd weekend of October. Get the young bulls some run.

2. The Q Exception

The spacing of minutes applies to Tony Allen, Courtney Lee, Vince Carter, and Tayshaun Prince as well. Who it doesn't apply to? Quincy Pondexter, who is in the hunt for a starting job heading into the October 29th home opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Quincy must continue to show a willingness to play within scheme (and himself), executing the offense and making smart decisions on both ends of the floor. Dave Joerger is going out on a bit of a limb testing Pondexter and putting him in this position; if he shows an inability to do his job, the leash on Q will likely be a short one.

It is in Quincy's best interest to play 25+ minutes after a day off, and show that "3-and-D" potential that he's flashed every so-often ever since he became a Grizzly. If he wants to be a starter, the time to prove himself is now.

3. Range-y Propositions

The Grizzlies' John Hollinger recently stated at Team Media Day that becoming an improved three-point shooting team was a goal of the front office this past off-season. That would be a worthwhile goal as well; it likely kills the analytics-minded Hollinger that the Grizzlies were so low on the three-point shots attempted list. The preseason is a perfect time to experiment with lineups and sets to get to more open opportunities from range. Beno/Lee/Pondexter/Leuer/Gasol? More off-ball screens for the Mike Conleys and Jordan Adams of the world? Creativity could most certainly abound.

Whether it is in practice, the preseason games, or both, Dave Joerger is no doubt brainstorming ways to get more efficient shots from range. Expect to see glimmers of that both tonight and beyond.

_________________________________________________

The Prediction

Wins and losses in the preseason are meaningless. Performances, health, and team chemistry are far more important to keep an eye on. The Grizzlies will limit the starters, get run out of the bench, and see plenty of Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes in a victory on Beale Street.

Memphis Grizzlies 97, Atlanta Hawks 91