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Grizzlies vs. Cavaliers Game Preview: Memphis Looks to Combat the Improved Cavs

After a deflating home loss on Friday, the Grizzlies hope to pull out a road victory against the new-look Cavaliers.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
2014/15 NBA Season
21-5 (9-3 road)
15-10 (9-5 home)
December 21, 2014
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
3:30 PM CDT
Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Kyrie Irving
Courtney Lee SG Mike Miller
Tayshaun Prince SF LeBron James
Zach Randolph PF Kevin Love
Marc Gasol C Anderson Varejao
2014/15 Advanced Stats
94.0 (27th) Pace 94.5 (25th)
106.5 (8th) OEff 107.6 (5th)
100.7 (8th) DEff 105.7 (23rd)
49.8 (T-15th) RebR 51.0 (10th)

Grizzlies vs Cavaliers coverage

More from the Cavs: Fear The Sword

Injury List:

Cavs: Mike Miller (Ankle, Questionable)

Grizzlies: Tony Allen (Eye, Questionable), Zach Randolph (Knee, Questionable), Beno Udrih (Finger, Questionable)

Recently from Cleveland:

After dropping an embarrassing home game against a Teague-less Hawks, the Cavs beat the Brooklyn Nets at home on Friday with a 95-91 victory. During the game, King James passed Sir Charles on the all-time scoring list to move up to the 23rd spot. Mike Miller, former Grizzly, started the game and ended up with 21 points. He was 7-8 from three point range. The Cavs, sitting at 15-10, are surely hungry for another home victory during their 5 game home stand against the Grizzlies on Sunday.

Recently from Memphis:

After an impressive 6-game winning streak, the tired legs of the Grizzlies caught up with them Friday as they dropped a home game against the shorthanded Bulls. The Grizzlies, though they cut the lead down multiple times and even got it to 2 with under a minute left, were unable to pull out the win. The Grizzlies could be shorthanded themselves if Allen, Randolph, and Udrih are unable to play Sunday.

Keys to Victory:

1. Hold The Big 3 To Under 60 Points

Unsurprisingly, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and Lebron James take a majority of the Cavaliers' shots:

Mike Conley, Tayshaun Prince, (possibly) Zach Randolph, and others will have their hands full today. And while I don't expect Irving, Lebron, and Love to go 6-18 from the field, a good goal is to keep them right below 60 points combined. The Grizzlies must limit their number of wide open threes and transition buckets, both of which can easily energize the opposing team and their crowd. If the Grizzlies can contain the Big Three, then they have a great chance of winning Sunday night.

2. Don't Give The Cavs Any Defensive Confidence

Cleveland is ranked 23rd in defensive efficiency, allowing 106.1 points per 100 possessions. Part of this is because of additions like Kevin Love, who is a great offensive asset but who creates a disadvantage defensively. Just check out his pick-and-roll defense:

Cleveland is ranked 10th in fast break points per game at 13.7 points. Memphis cannot afford to allow Cleveland to run out in transition. If the Grizzlies aren't careful with the ball and allow Kevin Love quarterback-like passes down the court to an open Lebron James, we could be in for a long night.

3. Limit Miller

Many, including myself, thought Mike would stay in Memphis this year. He seemed happy, and he fit well with the team. As Lebron's homecoming changed the outcome of many free agents' destinations, so Mike Miller was convinced to rejoin his old teammate when Lebron announced his return to Cleveland. Until Friday, Mike hadn't been playing major minutes and had been out seven straight games with a concussion. He got the start Friday, however, and was red hot from three point range. A mild ankle injury does have him listed as questionable for Sunday's matchup, but if he does play, he poses quite a threat. As Grizzlies fans, we all know that, when Miller is on, nothing can stop him. And I'm sure Miller would love to show off to his former team. If Mike plays significant minutes, the Grizzlies have to make sure he doesn't see the ball go through the net from beyond the arc.

Final Call:

The Grizzlies will come storming back Sunday and stifle the Cavs defensively. Cleveland's weak defense will not be able to contain the Grizzlies' improved offense, which will bounce back from Friday's poor performance. Kyrie Irving will have an impressive night, but Lebron James will struggle a bit. Marc Gasol will dominate against Varejao and make a couple of clutch shots toward the end of the game to help seal the deal for Memphis. In the end, the Grizzlies will walk out of Cleveland with a 103-95 victory.