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Memphis Goes for Three in a Row at Home vs. the Washington Wizards

After handing the Thunder another resounding loss last night, Memphis turns around to take on the visiting Washington Wizards on Saturday night. Either team may decide to rest players in this one, but motivation could be the deciding factor on both ends.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Setting the Stage

After holding off the now ‘on the bubble’ Oklahoma City Thunder last night, the Memphis Grizzlies face off against the Washington Wizards tonight at 7 P.M. In their last meeting, coach Dave Joerger chose to rest many of the Grizzlies stars. That decision didn’t go so well, as the Wizards trounced the Grizzlies 107-87. At this time of the year many playoff-bound NBA squads are in the position to at least consider resting stars. On Saturday night we may again see an unusual lineup from one or even both teams.

In their recent hot streak, Washington has won three of four and officially secured its spot in the Eastern Conference postseason. Memphis is just 3-3 in their last six and still has a few questions lingering overhead before the season ends. Finding scoring to complement their strong defensive presence has been the ultimate challenge during the Grit ‘n Grind era. For many teams, the "high" scores that Memphis needs to succeed are pedestrian, but reaching 100 points has been a major milestone and checkpoint throughout the Grizzlies season. They accomplished that mark last night in the 100-92 victory over the Thunder, and being able to consistently reach that number will be huge.

Tale of the Tape

Over their last four games the Wizards and Grizzlies have posted very similar numbers from the floor. The Wizards have a 44.8% field goal percentage and shoot 35.3% from long range while the Grizzlies are 45.5% from the floor and 32.4% from 3. Strength of schedule is always a consideration when comparing Eastern and Western Conference teams, so the fact that Washington holds a +5.5 Plus/Minus rating to Memphis’ -3.8 might not truly reflect the situation.

With the Wizards and Grizzlies securely in the playoffs, we might have a standoff situation where both coaches nonverbally agree to rest their players a little more than usual. On the other hand, Washington might be out for some quasi-revenge after feeling slighted by Joerger’s previous decision to rest the Grizzlies’ stars.

Despite their 3-1 streak, Washington has actually been in a slump similar to the Grizzlies’ with a record of 13-10 since the All-Star break. What’s perhaps more relevant is the fact that 1) Washington hasn’t beaten a >.500 team on the road since January 15th against Chicago, and 2) Washington hasn’t beaten Memphis on Beale Street since late 2004. Those were the days when big brother Gasol was still in a Grizzlies uniform alongside the likes of Shane Battier, Stromile Swift, and Jason Williams. Oh the memories. To put it in further context, Wizards star John Wall was just 14 years old when his team last won in Memphis.

That’s A Wrap

The starting lineups for Memphis and Washington are going to be the biggest factor in how this one turns out. Unless Memphis decides to rest all their stars and Washington comes out in full force, this should be the third home win in a row for the Grizzlies. Though it’s unlikely that coach Joerger will do that entirely with the #2 playoff seed still up for grabs.

Prediction- Grizzlies 99, Wizards 92