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The payback: Grizzlies at Suns Preview

After two painful losses against the free-falling Phoenix in the last month, Memphis looks for revenge.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Memphis Grizzlies (40-30) at Phoenix Suns (19-50)

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ

When: 9:00pm (CT), Monday March 21st

How to Watch: Fox Sports Southeast

How to Listen: ESPN 92.9FM Memphis

Injury report:

Memphis Grizzlies:
Chris Andersen (shoulder) - questionable
P.J. Hairston (groin) - out
Mike Conley (foot) - out
Brandan Wright (knee) - out
Marc Gasol (foot) - out
Jordan Adams (knee) - out

Phoenix Suns:
Eric Bledsoe (knee) - out
T.J. Warren (foot) - out

Leaving aside the blowouts at the beginning of the season, Memphis arguably suffered the most painful losses at the hands of the Phoenix Suns. They both happened after the All Star break where the Grizzlies had no answer for the Suns' interior game. The lack of Gasol and Wright were crucial in that sense.

The Suns will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season but, against the Grizzlies, they showed no intention to tank. Memphis seemed to be incapable to outperform a presumably much weaker team. The feeling of frustration was all over the place during those two losses.

Zach Randolphwho comes from an impressive return against the Clippers, will be motivated to dedicate a win tonight to the big time Grizzlies and Z-Bo fan and WWII survivor Jymmy Keep who passed away during the weekend. Randolph needs to show up again tonight in both ends of the floor. He did not perform his best defense against the Suns recently.

The length of the Phoenix frontcourt, with Alex Len and Tyson Chandler, created serious problems to the Grizzlies in recent meetings

The length of the Phoenix frontcourt, with Alex Len and Tyson Chandler, created serious problems to the Grizzlies in recent meetings. Len averaged 20,5 points and 16 rebounds and Chandler 11,5 points and 11 rebounds in the last two games against the Grizzlies. Chris Andersen would be a good antidote, at least for some stretches of the game, but his participation for tonight's game is uncertain.

Matt Barnes will be back to the team after serving a one game suspension. Lance Stephenson, who started in his absence against the Clippers, may go back to the point guard position or come off the bench. Considering that Z-Bo is back in the lineup, the team would benefit from always having a go-to guy on the floor at all times. In that respect, it does not seem a bad idea to have Stephenson as the sixth man.

The veteran point guard and two times NBA champion Jordan Farmar has been signed to a 10-day contract. The Grizzlies, still struggling with injuries, add more bench depth. With this addition, Memphis has now five former Clippers players: Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes, Lance Stephenson, Ryan Hollins and Jordan Farmar.

The Grizzlies will face the Suns and the Lakers back-to-back before playing twice against the Spurs. They will only play four of the remaining 12 games against teams with losing records. In order to secure a playoff spot, they should get those four wins unlike they did last week against Minnesota and Milwaukee. Holding on to the fifth spot, and meet the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, will depend very much on the April performances against playoff teams. Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, Golden State (twice) and the Clippers will stay on the Grizzlies' way.

In order to win some of those games against playoff teams, Memphis need to improve in some areas particularly from long range. After a short stint with decent three point shooting percentages, Memphis is back to old habits ranking last in the league with a 28,5 per cent from distance during the March games. Only the Lakers have shot the ball worse from the perimeter this season. When the Grizzlies are accurate from downtown, they are a difficult team to beat. However, the stats do not look very promising.

The future in Phoenix

Once again, the Suns are heading to the lottery in order to find the missing pieces and make it to the playoffs. In February, they traded Markieff Morris to Washington and the former Grizzly player Earl Watson replaced Jeff Hornacek as a head coach. They are 5-10 after the All Star break and 6-15 since he took over for a 19-50 overall record. Even though the record is not impressive, Phoenix may have found the ideal coach for this young team.

Despite the struggles, Devin Booker is arguably the best news for the Suns this season. The injuries of Bledsoe and Knight in the backcourt opened a door for the rookie to shine. He averages nearly 18 points a game after the All Star break, compared to 10,6 prior to that. His takes on pick-and-roll, hesitation dribbles and crossovers together with his three point skills killed the Grizzlies in the previous meeting.

He is chippy, sharp and slick, the kind of competitive player that you love when he is on your team but you hate otherwise. It is a similar feeling with the likes of Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul etc. His aggressive play against the Grizzlies has already triggered off a legion of haters among Memphis fans.

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