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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers Game Preview

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Memphis Grizzlies-LA Clippers is always a knock-down, drag-out contest. It's currently one of the greatest rivalries in the NBA, and something always happens during each game that rekindles the hate between the two teams. It's not a particularly important game for either team this early in the season, but don't tell that to the players or either fanbase.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
2014/15 NBA Season
11-2 (7-0 home)
7-4 (3-1 road)
November 23, 2014
FedEx Forum - Memphis, TN
5:00 PM CDT
Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Chris Paul
Courtney Lee SG J.J. Redick
Tony Allen SF Matt Barnes
Zach Randolph PF Blake Griffin
Marc Gasol C DeAndre Jordan
2014/15 Advanced Stats
94.1 (23rd) Pace 96.4 (9th)
105.9 (8th) OEff 107.2 (5th)
98.0 (4th) DEff 104.5 (20th)

SB Nation Blog: Clips Nation

Injury Report

Memphis: Tony Allen - Questionable (Illness); Quincy Pondexter - Questionable (Illness)

Los Angeles: Matt Barnes - Probable (Calf); Chris Douglas-Roberts - Out (Achilles)

Recently for the Clippers

The Clippers have played one of the toughest schedules in the NBA in the early going, which helps partially explain their underwhelming start. After suffering a slaughter at the hands of the Chicago Bulls, the Clippers turned around and beat the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat on back to back nights. With two full days of rest before facing the Grizzlies, fatigue shouldn't be much of an issue. Poor wing play has plagued this squad on both ends of the floor, which could mean trouble against a scorching hot Courtney Lee and the always dangerous Vince Carter.

Recently for the Grizzlies

The stomach virus struck nearly half of the Grizzlies locker room before the team's game in Toronto on Wednesday. The Grizzlies fought hard, nearly defeating the Raptors who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference. With a full roster, it's easy to imagine a different end result. Putting that game behind them quickly, the Grizzlies went out in their next game and easily handled the Boston Celtics. It's been fun to see the two rookies, Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes, get some run, but the Grizzlies will be a much more dangerous team against the Clippers if the veteran contributors are back to full strength.

Three Things to Watch for

1) Nick Calathes Returns - After serving a 20-game suspension for violating the NBA's drug policy (read: trying to grow hair), Calathes is set to return to the active roster against the Clippers on Sunday. Several big questions loom. How quickly will coach Joerger integrate Calathes back into the lineup? How will the return of Calathes affect the minutes of Beno Udrih?

The Grizzlies bench has struggled at times through the first month of the season, and that has left many wondering how different the bench unit would look with Calathes running the offense. Joerger is in an unenviable situation because Udrih has performed well of late, but Calathes brings too much to the floor to leave on the bench. It's likely what we will see Joerger do is play two point guards simultaneously at times. Whether that will be Conley/Calathes, Conley/Udrih, or Calathes/Udrih remains to be seen. Each of those combinations would bring a unique look to the floor.

2) Grizzlies Perimeter Offense vs. Clippers Perimeter Defense - Opposing perimeter players have torched the Clippers this season, and it's not just one position every night. It's been point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards. Wing depth is minimal for the Clippers, and the players they are relying on to lock up the opposing team's best perimeter player on a nightly basis aren't very good at it.

Matt Barnes is a scrappy defender, but he's 34-years old and lacks both the quickness and stamina to chase around a good perimeter player for 30+ minutes a night. J.J. Redick, like Barnes, gives great effort, but that's not enough to stop consistently stop quality wing players. Chris Paul is still decent, but he's aging and can't do everything on both ends of the floor for this team anymore. Let's not even mention Jamal Crawford's defense. I previously mentioned that Lee and Carter could give the Clippers defense trouble, and the difference in the game could be if the Grizzlies wings exploit the Clippers porous perimeter defense as everyone else has this season.

3) Zach Randolph vs. Blake Griffin - I firmly believe this is one of the best one-on-one matchups in the NBA. Randolph's power, grinding game vs. Griffin's finesse, athletic game. Neither guy has ever really been able to stop the other from scoring, and that probably won't change in this game. The two genuinely dislike each other, and there's something very '90s NBA about when they go at it in the low post. A fight is every bit as likely to break out on each post up as a bucket.