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Grizzlies vs Jazz Preview: Memphis searches for identity in Utah

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Sitting at 3-3, the Memphis Grizzlies look to get back on the winning side of things in tonight's match in Salt Lake City. Which version of the Grizzlies will we see tonight?

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah

When: 8:00 PM CT

How to Listen: 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

How to Watch: FoxSports Southeast

Grizzlies vs Jazz coverage

More from Utah: SLC Dunk

Recently From Utah:

The Utah Jazz improved to 3-2 after beating the Denver Nuggets 96-84. In addition, the Jazz have wins over the 76er's and the Pacers, while they fell to the Portland Trailblazers and Detroit Pistons. Gordon Haywood led the Jazz on Thursday with 20 points and had his best game so far this season. He had been struggling with his field goal percentage, as his shooting numbers were 7-20, 4-11, 3-12, and 5-11 previously. On the other hand, center Rudy Gobert scored 8 points and had 16 rebounds for Utah in their win Thursday night and has been a consistent force for the Jazz. Other standouts from Thursday include Trevor Booker, who had 13 points, along with Trey Burke and Alec Burks, who both had 12 points. If Utah wants to grab a win tonight, Hayward will need to have another impressive performance, and Gobert will need to shut down Memphis' bigs.

Recently From Memphis:

At this point, it's hard to tell what the Grizzlies are. After having an awful start to their season, Memphis bounced back at Indiana. Even on Saturday, they appeared like their old selves.

Then Monday came.

The Grizzlies got destroyed by the Golden State Warriors by a whopping 50 points. The Warriors knocked the Grizzlies down, and they never got back up. But, the Grizzlies had a match against the Sacramento Kings to prepare for Tuesday night, so the loss lived in a short memory. Aside from the first quarter, the Grizzlies dominated the game, and it appeared that we had finally gotten the Grizzlies that we know and love back. Marc Gasol didn't even play the second half due to neck spasms, and Memphis still looked great. Then came the Thursday night game in Portland. At halftime, the Grizz were down one. Things didn't look too bleak, however. There was still another half to be played. As if things couldn't get worse or more confusing for Grizz nation, Portland came out with guns blazing, and the Grizzlies looked like a deer in the headlights. Marc Gasol was 4-13 from the floor, and Mike Conley only had 7 points. Memphis looked disconnected on both ends of the floor. Panic has already risen among fans, and if this inconsistency continues, the Grizzlies might be fighting to make the playoffs. It's not that Memphis has a bad roster. It's not even an age issue. The Grizzlies just appear to not care. This team can do great things, but everyone has to be on the same page. Plus, there's rumors of Dave Joerger being on the hot seat, so now there might be even more pressure to win tonight and beyond.

Keys to Victory:

1. Contain Gordon Hayward

As Gordon Hayward is starting to heat up, the last thing the Grizzlies need is for another shooter to go off on them. If Zach Randolph is guarding him, then he'll be forced to come out of the paint more than he'd like and out to the three point line. But if the Grizzlies stick Tony Allen on him, it would be a good chance for Tony to shine, as he's been quiet for most of the season so far. Hayward is capable of getting hot offensively, especially with the home crowd rallying behind him. If the Grizzlies want to grab a victory tonight, they'd better focus on defending Hayward.

2. Defend Gobert, Win The Boards

Rudy Gobert has always given the Grizzlies problems. Marc Gasol will need to be engaged tonight, both offensively and defensively. It's important for Gasol to not allow Gobert to grab the offensive boards and give the Jazz extra possessions. On the year, Gobert is averaging 13 rebounds.Most importantly, Memphis must establish their presence in the paint on offense. Also, we should see some Brandan Wright vs. Gobert. Both players are long and athletic, and I've liked what I've seen of Wright so far. He plays really hard, and his athleticism is just what the Grizzlies need. We've already seen the pick-and-roll between Wright and Conley some this season, and that needs to become a staple this year.

3. Play Hard

This may seem very cliche, but it's so true for Memphis right now. Each night, we're seeing a different kind of effort, and sometimes no effort at all. If the Grizzlies get punched in the mouth tonight, they have to fight back. They not only need to play hard for themselves, but they need to show the fans that they care and that they want to win. It is crucial that Memphis comes out ready to play from the tip. Utah is a young, athletic team, and these types of teams usually give the Grizzlies problems. We saw Memphis excel against a team like this Tuesday night, and we also saw them look slow and old against a similar team on Thursday night. If the Grizzlies aren't all on the same page tonight, we could be in for a long game.

Final Call:

If Memphis comes out like they did against the Cavs, Golden State, and Portland, then the Grizzlies are in big trouble. However, if they come out ready to fight and with confidence, then Memphis has a good chance of winning. In theory, Memphis should be the better team in this match-up. But as we've seen so far this season, that means nothing. The Grizzlies have been riddled with inconsistency, so it's important that they establish their identity tonight, and it's important that identity carries over into the next stretch of games.

I expect a home-run effort from Mike Conley, who has been struggling most of this season.

Tony Allen needs to become a force again defensively, and tonight is as good a night as any to show why he is one of the best defenders in the league.

It will be interesting to see if Marc Gasol is fully healed from his neck injury, as he appeared almost useless on Thursday night.

If the Grizzlies can pound the boards and keep Hayward at bay, the Grizzlies have a great chance of winning tonight. But the Grizzlies can't have poor performances from their two star players, Marc and Mike. As those guys go, so does the team as a whole. At least one of those two guys needs to have a breakout night.

Prediction: Memphis 96 Utah 90