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Game Preview: Memphis vs Sacramento

The Grizzlies need this one after two straight losses.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (25-19, 14-8 home) vs. Sacramento Kings (16-25, 8-12 road)

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT:

Memphis: Brandan Wright (out, ankle)

Sacramento: Ty Lawson (questionable, ankle), Omar Casspi (out, calf), Rudy Gay (out, Achilles)

PROJECTED STARTERS:

Memphis: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol

Sacramento: Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, DeMarcus Cousins, Kosta Koufos


Memphis hosts Sacramento tonight, aiming to snap a two-game losing streak. The losses against Chicago and Washington make this game almost a must-win for the Grizzlies. Coming back to the winning path is essential in order to keep the fourth seed of the Western Conference in sight.

The Grizzlies need to figure out a way to be consistent day in and day out. Wins against top teams have been followed up by mediocre performances against supposedly weaker opponents.

Tonight's home game against Sacramento is one of those where Memphis has to show its superiority. Last time these two teams met, the Grizzlies won after scoring 17 three pointers, a franchise record.

The Kings, under the direction of the former Memphis coach Dave Joerger, have had several ups and downs during the season despite DaMarcus Cousins averaging 28 points and 10 rebounds a game. Former Grizzly Rudy Gay will miss the rest of the season with a torn Achilles suffered last Wednesday against Indiana.

The January Blues

It was understood that January was going to be a tough month for the Grizzlies with nine games on the road and a total of 10 games against teams currently in the playoff picture. So far they are 3-5 this year.

It’s particularly striking to see the poor defensive effort in the new year. The Grizzlies have only managed to keep one team below 100 points out of eight games. They are giving up 106.1 points a game only in January. In the first three months of the season (October, November, and December), Memphis was second in points allowed with 97.6 a game.

At the same time, the offensive production has soared now that the roster is mostly healthy. Memphis averages nearly five more points a game during January: 104.3 instead of 99.6.

A Nine Man Rotation

David Fizdale, who gave the young players significant playing time at the beginning of the season, has decided to shorten the rotation in the last few games. The rookies Andrew Harrison and Deyonta Davis, and power forward Jarell Martin, have not seen much court time lately.

As a result, Tony Allen is playing point guard during Mike Conley's bench minutes. This option has raised some controversy considering that the Grindfather has not performed that well in that position.

Fizdale, however, inexplicably did not play Troy Daniels against Washington last Wednesday, and Harrison spent eight forgettable minutes on the floor. The idea of signing a veteran backup point guard is growing on Grizzlies fans.

According to reports, Brandan Wright will be cleared to play soon and that may affect the current rotation. At the moment, Marc Gasol, JaMychal Green, and Zach Randolph are the only bigs Fizdale is making use of.

The Opposing Role Players

The Grizzlies will need to pay attention more often to secondary players from the opposing team. In the last few games they have been torched by role players such as Austin Rivers, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and Otto Porter. Rivers had a season-high 28 points and McDermott had a career-high 31 points against Memphis.

It’s true that the Grizzlies usually do a good job in terms of slowing down the stars in this league. Those players normally average lower numbers against Memphis. It is important to keep an eye on the rest, though.

The Grizzlies should clean this up as soon as possible. Sacramento has players like Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo who are capable scorers. Kosta Koufos had 16 points and 13 rebounds against Memphis in their first meeting this season.

Back-to-Back Games

The Grizzlies will play Houston tomorrow on the second night of a rare home and home back-to-back. Minutes restrictions may apply for some of the Grizzlies key players. It would be convenient to keep the amount of minutes low for Gasol and Conley, especially. Parsons is still limited to up to 20 minutes a game and will probably not participate in one of the two games.

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