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Memphis Grizzlies at Atlanta Hawks Game Preview

Memphis looks to split the season series against the Hawks

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (38-30, 18-16 Away) at Atlanta Hawks (37-30, 19-15 Home)

WHEN: 6:30 CT

WHERE: Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA

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

Injury Report:

Memphis - Chandler Parsons (Out, Knee)

Atlanta - Mike Dunleavy (Out, Right Ankle)

Projected Starters:

Grizzlies - Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Vince Carter, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol

Hawks - Dennis Schroder, Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard

The Grizzlies come into tonight’s game against the Hawks on the second night of a back-to-back following last night’s win against the Bulls.

The Grizzlies got blown out by the Hawks at the Grindhouse by a score of 107-90 in their first match-up last Saturday. It was another lackluster Grizzlies performance that has become startlingly common. Luckily, tonight is not Saturday night and the Grizzlies have the chance to avenge the embarrassing loss from 5 days ago. If the Grizz want to leave Atlanta with a W and extend their current winning streak to 3 games, here are a few key things they need to do.

Play Defense

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies have been one of the better defensive teams in the league since the 2010-2011 season, and even for the most part of this season they’ve been fine. However, this past month and a half has been BRUTAL. The 93 points the Grizzlies allowed vs. the Bucks on Monday were the lowest since they held the Phoenix Suns to 91 points on February 8th. They followed that up by holding the Bulls to 91 points last night. The most frustrating part has been the lack of effort and communication on the defensive end. Gasol and TA stay back to complain after an offensive possession which leads to easy transition baskets for the opposing team. Even in a half-court set, teams are getting easy baskets by losing track of their man. Peter Edmiston analyzed the horrific defensive effort Saturday night in a thread on twitter, which you can see below.

Simply put, the Grizzlies need their defense if they want to compete against the better teams in the NBA. The Bucks and Bulls aren’t great offensive teams, but they’ve helped the Grizzlies defense to wake up for the playoff run, and hopefully the Grizzlies can continue their recent success against the Hawks.

Contain Role Players

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The most frustrating part about the Grizzlies’ defensive woes has been the fact that they’ve allowed 50 players to have career-high nights against them (an exaggeration, but you get my point). So far this season, the Grizzlies have allowed guys like Solomon Hill, Doug McDermott, and most recently Taurean Prince to go off for high scoring games against them. Repeating what Ross said in his preview for last night’s game against the Bulls, you can live with a star player beating you because that’s what star players do.

When you allow guys like Taurean Prince to score 17 points against you (or Nikola Mirotic scoring 14 last night), it’ll be tough to overcome. If the Grizzlies can keep players such as Prince and Jose Calderon in check, the outcome of tonight’s game should be much better than the last matchup.

The Prediction

After tonight, 3 of the Grizzlies’ next 4 games are against the Spurs (twice) and Warriors, who will be battling against each other for the top seed in the playoffs and home court throughout. With a tough schedule ahead, the Grizzlies need to win games like tonight’s if they want move up the standings and avoid the Spurs or Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. In the end, I expect the Grizzlies to pull out a close one in Atlanta to avenge last weekend’s defeat.

Grizzlies 107, Hawks 103

Follow @sbngrizzlies