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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Toronto Raptors Game Preview

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Hopefully, Kawhi Leonard and his diabolical game — and laugh — don’t run the Grizzlies out of the building.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (12-7, 7-2 home) vs. Toronto Raptors (18-4, 8-2 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- Chandler Parsons (Out, knee), Dillon Brooks (Out, knee)

TORONTO- Norman Powell (Out, shoulder)

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:

MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol

TORONTO- Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valanciunas


The Memphis Grizzlies are entering Tuesday’s matchup looking to end a two-game losing streak. They’re entering an familiar scenario where they lose a game they should win and win a game they have no business winning. For the brand!

In this game, they’ll be facing a revamped Toronto Raptors team, a squad that sits at the top of the Eastern Conference. After letting go of last year’s Coach of the Year, Dwane Casey, and their face of the franchise, DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors honestly look better than ever. Nick Nurse has transformed this team into a two-way juggernaut, as they’re 3rd in Offensive Rating and 7th in Defensive Rating — one of three teams in the top 10 for both categories — while having the second best net rating.

While Kawhi Leonard hasn’t missed a beat, everyone around him has blossomed in this new system. Kyle Lowry is the lone floor general averaging double-digit assists this season. Serge Ibaka has turned the clock back to when he was a 35-year old two-way phenom on the Thunder, as he’s averaging 16.7 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. Pascal Siakam has broken out as a two-way threat, even serving as the occasional point forward. Jonas Valanciunas has transitioned coaches nicely, averaging 13 points and 7.7 rebounds in under 20 minutes a game. This doesn’t even include two-way stalwarts like Danny Green and OG Anunoby, and second-unit floor generals like Fred Van Vleet and Delon Wright.

This team could realistically dethrone the Warriors.

ANYWAYS, this game. What should you watch for? What must go right for the Memphis Grizzlies to pull off an upset?


NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Matchup of the Night

The easy answer here is Kyle Anderson versus Kawhi Leonard, a battle of former Spurs members. You can even go with Mike Conley and former Grizzly Kyle Lowry. Let’s get a little edgy here though, because I got something that NBA Twitter will salivate at.

The Jaren Jackson and Pascal Siakam matchup isn’t necessarily the sexiest pick in the world. However, both of these players give you a glimpse of both the modern NBA and the future of basketball as a whole. Siakam looks like a frontrunner for the Most Improved Player award, as he’s transformed his entire game. He has evolved into a position-less maestro — bringing the ball up in both half-court and fast-break scenarios, becoming a deft playmaker, improving his 3-point shooting touch, and serving as a dangerous switchable defender. As the Raptors have evolved into a juggernaut, the arrival of Kawhi Leonard surely helps, but Siakam’s emergence into a two-way beast gives Lowry and Leonard a legitimate third-wheel.

Meanwhile, in Memphis, Jaren Jackson has turned heads, especially with his recent performance (16 points, 6-6 shooting from the field, 4-4 from downtown, 6 rebounds and 7 blocks).

Jackson is the perfect sidekick next to Marc Gasol, as they’ve been a frontcourt nightmare on both ends of the court. On defense, he's everything as advertised and then some. Jackson is already fifth in the league in blocks per game (2.2) and in block percentage (7.9%). Offensively, he’s way ahead of the game. He can take smaller or bigger players off the dribble, his post game and footwork are so advanced for a 19-year old rookie, and his outside jumper is finally turning up after a slow start. Some people, like me, are conservative with player comparisons, but Jackson’s play so far this season has amplified the Kevin Garnett and Anthony Davis comparisons.

If you love big men that can do ANYTHING on the court, you need to watch this game. I demand it.


NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Major Key Alert

  • Getting others involved.

The Grizzlies have a tendency of over-relying on Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, as evident in Sunday’s loss against New York. It’s not necessarily a terrible thing, because they are both All-Star caliber players. However, you can’t rely on them TOO much in the regular season, especially given their age. They must look in getting others involved quickly and often, whether it’s giving Jackson more looks, or looking to get Temple and Mack going early.

Averages in wins (12 games):

Temple: 12.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, Offensive Rating: 120, Defensive Rating: 105, 50.0 FG%, 50.0 3PT%, 84.2 FT%, 33.0 minutes per game

Mack: 10.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, Offensive Rating: 122, Defensive Rating: 107, 51.7 FG%, 52.9 3PT%, 75.0 FT%, 25.1 minutes per game

Averages in Losses (7 games):

Temple: 7.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, Offensive Rating: ... 76..., Defensive Rating: 113, 35.1 FG%, 26.5 3PT%, 80.0 FT%, 31.7 minutes per game.

Mack: 9.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, Offensive Rating: 94, Defensive Rating: 110, 40.7 FG%, 26.3 3PT%, 63.6 FT%, 25.4 minutes per game.

The Grizzlies won’t win just based off a 2-man game with Gasol and Conley, especially against the Toronto Raptors. They’ll need contributions from its unicorn and the role players — primarily Garrett Temple and Shelvin Mack.


Prediction

The Memphis Grizzlies just lost to the New York Knicks, so in Grizz theory, they should pull off the win against Toronto. No one plays to the level of their competition like the Grizzlies, both in the worst and best way possible.

Grizzlies - 108, Raptors - 102

Stats found on basketball-reference and NBA.com.

Follow @sbngrizzlies