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Grizzlies vs. Kings Game Preview: West Coast Trip Rolls On

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It took almost no time for the Grizzlies to shed any rust from the All-Star break, as they defeated two of the best teams in the West on back-to-back nights. They look to continue their run of strong play as they head to Sacramento to face George Karl's Kings.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Recently for the Kings

George Karl is now at the helm in Sacramento, giving the Kings their third coach this season. Since the All-Star break, the Kings are 1-1. They won against the Celtics before falling in a landslide to the Clippers. One of the few bright spots in the game against the Clippers was DeMarcus Cousins, who continues to dominate the league on a nightly basis. He had thirty-one points and fifteen rebounds. Those aren't even shocking numbers, which speaks to how crazy talented he is. The important thing for Sacramento heading into the home stretch is to begin to build a solid foundation for next season. Stability is greatly needed and will surely be appreciated by the players.

Recently for the Grizzlies

In two games since the All-Star break ended, the Grizzlies have only confirmed themselves as a serious contender. There were bumps along the road in both contests, but they handled two of the best teams in the West on back-to-back nights in the Trailblazers and the Clippers. The defense has rounded back into top form since Jeff Green was acquired, Nick Calathes' role increased, and Marc Gasol decided to step up his game. With the defense playing at this level, the Grizzlies' ceiling is crazy high. Everyone knows it, too.

Three Things to Watch

1) Backup Point Guard Minutes - Against the Blazers, Beno Udrih played a couple more minutes than Nick Calathes. Against the Clippers, Calathes' minutes doubled over Udrih's. Their minutes are likely going to fluctuate the rest of the season based on opponent and different situations, but it's worth noting that Calathes' role is expanding.

Other than Tony Allen, one could argue Calathes is the team's most versatile defender. He can feasibly defend three positions, and his knack for jumping into passing lanes is incredible. His passing ability is also underrated. He's excellent at drawing the defense out of its shape before dishing to a wide-open teammate. A master puppeteer with the ball in his hands, Calathes is able to pull strings with ease. Udrih's scoring off the bench is incredibly important to the team's success in its own right. It's tough to say which guy is more valuable to the team, but things are undoubtedly trending in Calathes' favor at the moment.

2) Changes Under George Karl - Now on their third coach this season, Sacramento is looking for stability. Karl could be a long-term solution for the Kings, but he hasn't been there long enough to put his fingerprint on the team. It'll be fun to see what has changed, if anything, since Karl took over.

3) Marc Gasol vs. DeMarcus Cousins: Yay for Fun - It's always fun to watch this matchup. Both guys are elite at their position and jockeying for the title of "best center in the NBA". A case can easily be made for both guys. The Grizzlies haven't played the Kings since Gasol hit peak WENDIGO status defensively, and I suspect he will come out eager to shut Cousins down.

2014/15 NBA Season
vs
2014/15:
41-14 (18-9 road)
2014/15:
19-35 (12-17 home)
February 25, 2015
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
9:00 PM CDT
Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Ray McCallum
Courtney Lee SG Ben McLemore
Jeff Green SF Rudy Gay
Zach Randolph PF Carl Landry
Marc Gasol C DeMarcus Cousins
2014/15 Advanced Stats
94.2 (26th) Pace 97.5 (9th)
104.4 (10th) OEff 101.4 (20th)
100.0 (5th) DEff 106.1 (27th)
50.2 (13th) RebR 52.6 (1st)

SB Nation Blog: Sactown Royalty

Injury Report

Memphis: Vince Carter - Out (Foot)

Sacramento: Darren Collison - Out (Hip); Reggie Evans - Questionable (Knee); Eric Moreland - Out (Shoulder)