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Game Preview: Detroit Pistons vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies host the Pistons on Sunday evening.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Detroit Pistons (36-43, 12-27 away) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (43-37, 25-15 home)

WHERE: FedExForum, Memphis, TN

WHEN: 5:00 PM CT

HOW TO WATCH: FoxSports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS – Zach Randolph (rest)

DETROIT – Reggie Jackson (knee)

PROBABLE STARTERS:

MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Vince Carter, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol

DETROIT: Ish Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Henry Ellenson, Andre Drummond


The Memphis Grizzlies take on the Detroit Pistons at home on Sunday night. Both teams are coming off wins in their last games, the Grizzlies beating the New York Knicks at home, the Pistons beating the Houston Rockets on the road. The Grizz will be lookinto to finish the season on a strong note in their second-to-last game. The Pistons will have two more games after their match-up in Memphis and have been officially eliminated from the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Sixth man Zach Randolph will not be available for the Grizzlies on Sunday, he will be out for rest. Aside from him, the Grizzlies will have close to a full roster to work with. It is likely Coach Fizdale will use his entire bench, as he did against the Knicks on Friday. Detroit will be without starting point guard Reggie Jackson who has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury.

At this point late in the season, the basketball quality drops for a lot of teams. Regular rotation players sit out to save energy for the playoffs, and teams that aren’t moving on often have no motivation to win games. This game will probably be sloppy, but Memphis is still looking to work out some kinks that could prevent a deep playoff run.

Marc Gasol is coming off a minor foot injury, and JaMychal Green is still nursing a shoulder injury. There are valuable minutes to be had for players that are looking to get back into their groove for the playoffs, this game versus the Pistons could be just the type game to get back on track. After losing three of the last four, Memphis needs every win they can get to prepare for a series against the Spurs.

Here are a few keys to the game.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Bench Play

Wayne Selden led the Grizzly bench in scoring in the win over the Knicks. That is not a good sign. Andrew Harrison played 22 minutes, he didn’t even score. Seven Memphis players logged minutes off the bench, but only one scored in double figures. That just won’t cut it. More of the same came in the previous loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Zach Randolph led the bench that game with 20, but the next closest was Troy Daniels with eight points. The bench has been spotty at best this season, but the reserve is so crucial to the Grizzlies success. In these closing games (after the Grizzlies locked up a playoff birth) the bench has been logging more minutes, but haven’t been producing more on either end of the floor. Look for the players like Troy Daniels, Wade Baldwin IV and Brandan Wright to step and have big games.

Mike Conley

If you have been keeping up with the Grizzlies at all in March and April, you know that Mike Conley is on fire right now. He took a nasty shot to the eye against the Spurs that kept him out versus OKC, but he was back in action against the Knicks. Of course, he played well, scoring 31 in the win, and I expect more of the same versus Detroit. He has been logging more minutes of recent because of the needed scoring in Marc Gasol’s absence, but he seems to be handling the workload pretty well.

He has been fun to watch- the rainbow threes and righty floaters never get old. Against the less talented point guards on Detroit’s roster, I think Mike Conley will have another great game. I will say in preview of the last two games of the regular season, Conley could be seeing some added rest time. He will start and still play around 30 minutes, but he may be getting longer 2nd and 3rd quarter breaks in preparation for the playoffs.

Detroit’s Motivation

It’s tough to find a reason to play with only three games left on the schedule. These games mean quite literally nothing for either team; maybe a sense of pride could spark some motivation. Detroit doesn’t have one of their top scorers in Reggie Jackson and aren’t even in a good position for a lottery pick. They will finish just outside a playoff spot by three games or so, and they will play two of their three games on the road. I’m all for a Grizzlies blowout win, but its never entertaining for fans to watch a team just get slaughtered and not care. I hope the Pistons come to play and give the fans a show.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction

The Grizzlies are better than the Pistons. But talent hasn’t prevailed in games that Grizz are supposed to win this season anyway (eyeroll). Detroit is playing for nothing other than pride, so I don’t see them trying that hard to keep this game close. Memphis is still searching for an identity to own into the playoffs, and these last two games are good tests of who will make the trusted rotation against the Spurs. I see Memphis winning this game via a strong second half and hopefully some solid bench play.


Spread: Grizzlies -7 I will take the Pistons with the points. The Grizzlies are downright terrible at blowing out teams they should handle easily. We have seen that become a theme all season. Memphis rarely beats anyone by 8 points or more (if you thought of the Knicks, watch the last three seconds of that game).

The Pistons could steal one on the road for pride in Memphis, but they don’t need to win this game by any means. It will most likely be close for most of the game because it’s the Grizzlies, but I could see a late push in the 4th quarter to put the game out of reach. Still, I will take Detroit in the spread.

Grizzlies – 101, Pistons – 95