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Game Preview: Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans

Whatever the Grizzlies do in New Orleans, they must stay away from Pierre the Pelican.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport
2013/2014 NBA Season
37-26 (17-12 road)
Won 3
26-37 (15-14 home)
Won 3
March 11th, 2014
Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA
7:00 PM CDT
Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Brian Roberts
Courtney Lee SG Eric Gordon
Tayshaun Prince SF Tyreke Evans
Zach Randolph PF Anthony Davis
Marc Gasol C Alexis Ajinca
2013/14 Advanced Stats
92.3 (30th) Pace 94.5 (22nd)
103.1 (T-16th) OEff 104.6 (11th)
102.4 (10th) DEff 107.1 (27th)

Line: Memphis by 4: O/U: 189.5

Opponent's Blog: The Bird Writes

Injury Report: Memphis: Quincy Pondexter - Out (Foot); New Orleans: Jason Smith - Out (Knee); Ryan Anderson - Out (Knee, Back); Jrue Holliday - Out (Neck)

Memphis Grizzlies Tickets

Slow Down Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis' height, length, athleticism, and versatility make him a tough matchup for the Grizzlies. Marc Gasol is the best Grizzlies player at defending Davis one-on-one, but he simply cannot handle that task for 20+ minutes without becoming completely gassed and possibly worthless on offense. It would be best if the Grizzlies throw an array of big men Davis' way to force him to beat different looks.

In the three previous games this season between the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Davis has been most effective in spot-up opportunities. That can largely be attributed to Memphis not having a big man that plays great too far away from the rim. Zach Randolph, the man who has been tasked with defending Davis for the majority of the time in the past, particularly struggles to play any defense outside of the paint. This plays into Davis' favor, and the Grizzlies better hope Davis is having an off night or get creative with their switches to limit him. One option the Grizzlies should consider throwing at Davis is James Johnson. He's been out of favor when it comes to game time recently, but he has the length, strength, and athleticism to defend Davis. He might even be the best defensive option the Grizzlies have to toss Davis' way.

Limit Turnovers

In the previous three meetings between these two teams this season, all three Memphis losses, the Grizzlies averaged 15 turnovers per game. That's about 1.5 turnovers more than the Grizzlies season average. The Pelicans, who rank 10th in points per possession in transition with 1.13, are a decent transition team with all the athleticism on the roster. Obviously, more Grizzlies turnovers equal more transition opportunities for the Pelicans. Luckily, the Grizzlies point guards have been protecting the ball well of late. Just last night against a good Portland Trailblazers team, Mike Conley and Nick Calathes combined for 13 assists while turning the ball over just 2 times.

Mike Conley vs. Eric Gordon

There is no reason Conley should not dominate this matchup. He's much better than Gordon in every area at this point in their respective careers, and he should be able to exploit him in the pick and roll consistently. Gordon is not an overly aggressive defender, and he becomes lazy if he is forced to fight through screens, not even bothering to call for help or attempting to recover. Conley beat him multiple times as the pick and roll ball handler in the previous three meetings between the two teams. If Conley is able to pull strings all night long and set up himself and others, the task of finally beating the Pelicans this season becomes much easier.

Final Prediction: The Grizzlies are on a tear, having won three straight. They are playing their butts off right now, like their playoff life depends on it right now, because it does. With Marc Gasol back to his 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year form and Tony Allen looking like he can stop anybody he's matched up with right now, the Grizzlies are darn near unbeatable. I don't think that changes against the Pelicans.

Final Score: Memphis 106, New Orleans 98