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Game Preview: Toronto Raptors vs Memphis Grizzlies

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After falling to the Knicks, Memphis looks to rebound against the Raps

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Memphis Grizzlies (8-16 overall, 5-8 home) vs Toronto Raptors (15-7 overall, 6-6 away)

Where: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee

How to Watch/Listen: FOX Sports Southeast-Memphis, 92.9 FM ESPN

Injury Report:

Memphis- Mike Conley (out, Achilles), Wayne Selden (out, quad), Brandan Wright (Out, groin)

Toronto- Lucas Nogueira (out, calf), Delon Wright (out, shoulder)

Projected Lineups:

Memphis- Tyreke Evans, Dillon Brooks, Ben McLemore, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol

Toronto- Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas


That winning streak sure didn’t last long.

After snapping their 11 game losing streak against the Timberwolves on Monday, the Grizz subsequently dropped their game against the Knicks Wednesday night, 99-88. They will look to get back to their winning ways as they host the Toronto Raptors Friday night at the venerable FedExForum.

Memphis currently finds themselves slogging their way through a difficult schedule. In their last five games, three of the four teams they’ve played are projected to make the playoffs, not to mention upcoming games against foes such as the Thunder, Wizards, Celtics and Warriors all coming before Christmas. Yeesh.

But all is not lost. The age-old matra of taking it one game at a time can help the Grizzlies here. As long as they stay in the here and now and take it one game at a time, there is reason for hope.

Here are some keys to beating the Raptors:

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New York Knicks Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Unity/Communication

Defense has been a real issue for Memphis during their recent slide and that was on full display in their loss to the Knicks. Too many times New York’s players found themselves with ample space like this:

Or too often the Grizzlies had mental lapses that led to plays like this:

Gasol has been preaching defensive consistency throughout the course of this slide and it is imperative that Memphis regains its defensive prowess soon. Toronto is third in the league in offensive rating and second in overall field goal % so Memphis is going to have to be its absolute best in order to hold their own against the Raptors. Good transition defense, forcing turnovers and playing smart defense will go a long way to Memphis getting back to winning ways.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Limiting Toronto’s Dynamic Backcourt

Make no mistake, if Memphis is going to win this game, they’re going to have to slow down Toronto’s star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The pair average 39 points and 12 assists and stopping them will be key to emerging victorious. If this duo is bottled up to the best of the Grizzlies’ ability, then the Raptors will have to find other ways to beat them. Now this puts a lot of pressure on the collective effort of guys like Mario Chalmers, Tyreke Evans, Dillon Brooks and Ben McLemore. While not exactly a fearsome group of defenders, with proper effort and communication, they just might get the job done.

Prediction

This match-up is just another tough game in a difficult December for the Grizzlies and a win seems hard to envision, but I’m casually optimistic. Returning home after a tough loss on the road can help inspire a team to win in front of their fans. I’m going to go out on a limb here and give my official prediction.

Grizzlies 102, Raptors 98

Follow @sbngrizzlies