Site Manager’s note- Thanks to Richard Miller for writing today’s Game Preview. Follow him on Twitter @richmiller22
Who: Memphis Grizzlies (11-7, 6-3 road) at Toronto Raptors (11-6, 4-1 home)
When: 6:30 PM CT
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Allen (questionable, lower back), Zach Randolph (questionable, personal reasons), Brandan Wright/Mike Conley/James Ennis/Chandler Parsons (out, various ailments)
Toronto Raptors: Delon Wright (out, shoulder)
Memphis Grizzlies: Wade Baldwin (?), Tony Allen, Troy Williams, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valanciunas
Despite their 19-point loss to the Hornets, the Grizzlies team that steps on the Air Canada Centre floor on Wednesday night is one of the hottest (albeit banged up at the moment) teams in the league. Memphis is 7-3 over their last ten games. Only the Warriors (10-0) and Spurs (9-1) are better over that stretch. Despite getting off to a slow start this year, Grizzlies Head Coach David Fizdale didn’t alter his coaching style, preferring to remain true to a method that he believed put the team in the best position to win. Sticking to his guns is admirable, as being a new hire always comes with extra attention and scrutiny.
Postgame - Tony Allen said Hornets loss was draining. "A lot of guys looked worried" when Mike Conley got hurt.— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) November 29, 2016
His somewhat unorthodox style has included bringing Zach Randolph off the bench and limiting Mike Conley’s minutes at times to ensure he remains fresh as the season goes on. As the team has bought in, the results have been promising. Marc Gasol and Conley are leading the way and have proven to be an effective one-two punch. The duo is so potent that the Grizzlies are plus 9.5 points per 100 possessions when they are on the floor together. In Memphis’ most recent stretch, they are a staggering plus 22 when Conley and Gasol share the floor, but a minus 23 when they are out...more on this in a moment.
The good news for the Grizzlies heading into their matchup with the Raptors is that Gasol will be on the floor and his play will be crucial. Memphis will need every bit of his 18 points per game (and his continued hot streak from beyond the arc wouldn’t hurt either) because they could take the court without leading scorer Conley (19.2 points per game), because of a lower back injury he suffered in the loss to Charlotte. They could also be without Randolph (who leads the team in rebounds and field goal percentage) as he remains out after the death of his mother. Conley is out at least the next six weeks, and there is no timetable for Randolph’s return.
While Toronto (3-2 in their last five games) isn’t as hot as Memphis has been, they do bring a more potent offense to the floor. The Grizzlies are only averaging 97 points per game, while the Raptors average 109. Memphis will surely struggle more than usual offensively now that Conley is out. Toronto will be led by DeMar DeRozan, whose 29 points per game are a full ten points higher than the Grizzlies leading scorer. While DeRozan is the clear leader, he isn’t doing it alone. DeMarre Carroll has stepped up his game lately and Kyle Lowry was lights out in the win over the 76ers, hitting all six of his shots from downtown.
Despite the offensive firepower, Toronto is still working to improve a defense that allows 104 points per game. If the Memphis defense (allowing 96 points per game) can slow down Toronto and their offense can take advantage of a potentially porous Raptors defense, the Grizzlies will have a chance to steal this one on the road.