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Pelicans vs. Grizzlies Preview: Critical Southwest Divisional Clash

The Memphis Grizzlies are starting to slip in the NBA standings as Houston has claimed a slight lead on the second seed, and other teams are right behind them. A win against a division foe tonight could go a long way in the Grizzlies' seeding aspirations.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Pelicans vs Grizzlies coverage

More from New Orleans: The Bird Writes

Injury List:

Pelicans: Jrue Holiday (Leg, Out)

Grizzlies: Tony Allen (Hamstring, Out)

Recently From New Orleans:

The New Orleans Pelicans pulled out a crucial win last night over the Golden State Warriors, a win which put them into eighth place in the Western Conference since they have the tiebreaker over the OKC Thunder. Hungry and desperate, the Pelicans will surely put forth their best Wednesday night against Memphis in hopes of gaining a lead over OKC. In Tuesday night's win, Anthony Davis had an astounding 29 points, and former Grizzly Quincy Pondexter had 20 himself. Stephen Curry's 25 points wasn't enough for Golden State to pull out a win as the Pelicans grabbed the 103-100 victory. This win was a huge confidence booster for New Orleans' playoff hopes.

Recently From Memphis:

After Friday night's impressive victory, Grizz nation breathed a sigh of relief. The team looked like everything the fans had hoped for for weeks: energized, gritty, and, well, like their old selves. Saturday morning started off bright, sunny, and optimistic. Unfortunately, Saturday night resulted in a total disaster:

Inconsistency has continued to plague the Grizzlies post All-Star break, and this past weekend is the perfect example of that. Saturday night, the Grizzlies looked like the complete opposite of themselves. They only had 2 steals on the night and allowed the Wizards 26 fast break points. To add to the catastrophe, Zach Randolph only shot the ball 5 times. After the game, a salty Z-Bo said the Grizzlies should "Just throw it to the hand".

After three days to marinate in the loss, the Grizzlies have the chance to gain a victory against a divisional opponent who will be on the second night of a back-to-back. The thing is, we don't know which version of the Grizzlies will show up Wednesday night. Let's hope it's the grit-and-grind version.

Keys to Victory:

1. Contain Anthony Davis

This season, Anthony Davis is averaging an impressive 24.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. Against the Grizz he's averaging 19 points, his best performance against Memphis being in the last matchup when he had 23 points. In all three matches, Memphis has managed to hold Davis below his season average. That will be a huge point of emphasis tonight. Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Kosta Kuofos will need to do a good job keeping Davis off the free throw line and not allowing him easy baskets. In the last game against New Orleans, Marc Gasol only had 8 points and only shot 7 times. Marc needs to get back to his All-Star ways, shooting the ball more and doing so efficiently tonight against Davis.

2. Value Leads

In the last showdown against New Orleans, the Grizzlies had a twelve point lead at the half and seemed in total control in the first two quarters. Then the third quarter came, in which the Pelicans outscored Memphis 33-17. This one quarter ended up costing the Grizzlies the game, as they were only outscored by two points in the fourth quarter (24-22). Memphis has to value the basketball and limit turnovers. The Grizzlies had 14 turnovers on the night. In addition, Memphis shot a miserable 19-29 from the line. If the Grizz want to pull out a win tonight, they're going to need to value every possession. If they should jump out to a substantial lead, they've got to hold onto it with an iron grip. Hopefully, they learned their lesson of playing around with leads, especially the double-digit versions.

3. Limit Tyreke Evans

In all three games vs. the Grizzlies this season, Evans has had +20 points. At this point, he's an authentic "Grizz Killer". In fact, his history against the Grizzlies goes a long way back:

Memphis must make it a priority to keep Evans from exploding offensively. On the year, Tyreke only averages 16.8 PPG. If Memphis can keep Evans from shooting the lights out, then that will greatly benefit the Grizzlies. In the last two games against Memphis, Evans shot 5 threes and above 45% from the field. During the last matchup against Memphis, Evans managed to shoot 10-16 from the field and had 15 points in the second half. If Memphis can limit Evans and Anthony Davis, then the Grizzlies have a good chance of getting a win in FedEx Forum tonight.

Final Call:

An angry and determined Grizzlies team will come to play Wednesday night, and a hard fought battle against the Warriors will result in a somewhat fatigued Pelicans team. Zach Randolph will force Anthony Davis to take tough shots, and Memphis will do a decent job against Tyreke Evans, although he'll still end up with 15+ points. Memphis will get some payback from the last time these two met and come up with a victory after a long three day break.

Memphis 95 New Orleans 90