When: 5 PM CT
Where: Amway Center
How to Listen: 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
How to Watch: FoxSports Southeast
More on the Magic: Orlando Pinstriped Post
Recently From Orlando:
The 32-44 Orlando Magic sit at 12th in the Eastern Conference, but they've won their last three out of four games. Their three game winning streak was dashed by the Bucks on Friday. They fell to Milwaukee on the road, 110-113, thanks to 26 points from Jabari Parker. For the Magic, Nikola Vucevic led the way with 22 points, and Victor Oladipo had 18 as well. Turnovers hurt the Magic in this one as they had 20. In addition, they lost the rebounding battle (40-37). Although the Magic aren't fighting for positioning in the playoffs, they pose just as much of a danger to the Grizzlies because they have nothing left to lose either.
Recently From Memphis:
Things haven't been so bright in Grizz Nation the last week or so. The Grizzlies have dropped five straight, including several very winnable games that would have helped them tighten their grip on the 5th seed. Now, the Portland Trailblazers are only one game behind the Grizzlies. And slipping out of the fifth seed means no matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers, which seems a much more favorable option than playing OKC, the Spurs, or the Warriors. On Friday the Grizzlies dropped a close one to the Toronto Raptors. There were 14 lead changes and 11 ties during the game, and although the Grizz led by eight at halftime, the Raptors gained a two point lead going into the fourth. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 27 points, while Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 16. Although the Grizz won the turnover battle and the rebound battle, the Raptors came up with the winning plays down the stretch and snatched the 99-95 victory. In the last three minutes, the Raptors converted all eight of their free throws. This loss leaves the Grizzlies in a tough situation as the playoffs are inching closer. Perhaps, the Grizz need to get their mojo back on the road against the Magic.
Keys to Victory:
1.Get Matt Barnes Going
Matt Barnes has had a rough going as of late. On Wednesday, he was 2-12 from the field, and on Friday he only had two points. With so many injuries, Matt Barnes is now being relied on more offensively than he was at the beginning of this season. If the Grizzlies want to make the playoffs and possibly hang on to the fifth seed, then Matt Barnes is going to have to get out of his offensive rut and get back to producing consistently for Memphis. At this point, Barnes is one of Memphis' best options on offense, and part of the reason for Memphis' recent struggles is the lack of production from Barnes. Tonight is the time for Matt Barnes to return to his old ways. He has to, if Memphis wants to stand a chance.
2.Tighten Up Defensively
In their past two games, the Grizzlies have allowed their opponents to make 10+ three's. It is vital in today's match that Memphis tightens up defensively beyond the arc and does not allow Orlando to sharp shoot their way to victory. As the injuries have stacked up, Memphis' defensive efficiency has dropped down 17th in the league. Aside from Friday's game, the Grizzlies have allowed their opponent to score 100+ points in the past 4 games. It starts at the three point line. The Grizzlies need to force the Magic to take tough, contested threes and do a better job at rotating on defense. The Grizzlies have been able to score enough overall, but their defense has been what has really hurt them in many ways. In addition, the Grizz will have their hands full in the paint against center Nikola Vucevic, who is averaging 17.9 PPG. Chris Anderson will have to step up and protect the boards. Since coming back from Anderson, his performances have been a mixed bag. Hopefully he'll show up big tonight against Vucevic.
3.Stop the Skid
The Grizzlies are on a five game losing streak. It's been a while since Memphis has grabbed a victory. Injuries continue to plague the Grizzlies, and although the effort has been evident every night, the Grizz haven't been able to finish out close games as of late. This game against Orlando is one of the "easier" games remaining on the schedule for Memphis. If they drop this one, missing the playoffs starts to become a more unfortunately possible option. To keep their playoff hopes alive, the Grizz really need this one on the road. If things are close down the stretch, Memphis has to find a way to finish it out and come up with the necessary plays to win the game.
Lance Stephenson has been a bright spot lately. In the month of March he averaged 15.1 PPG, and he had 12 points on Friday night. In addition, Zach Randolph has been a reliable force on offense when healthy. Those two guys, alongside Matt Barnes and Tony Allen, have to lead this team to the playoffs until guys like Mike Conley can return to the lineup. Tonight is a chance for them to get back on the right track against the Orlando Magic.
Memphis 99 Orlando 94