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Memphis Grizzlies @ Minnesota Timberwolves Game Preview

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Memphis is back on the road. That always ends well.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (19-54, 5-30 road) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (42-32, 27-9 home)

WHERE: Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

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

INJURY REPORT-

MEMPHIS- Chandler Parsons (Questionable, knee soreness), Mike Conley (Out, heel), Ivan Rabb (Out, heel), Tyreke Evans (Out, personal)

MINNESOTA- Jimmy Butler (Out, knee), Derrick Rose (Questionable, ankle)

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS-

MEMPHIS- Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, Jarell Martin, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol

MINNESOTA- Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Nemanja Bjelica, Taj Gibson, Karl-Anthony Towns


Tonight, the worst road team in the NBA takes on one of the better home teams in the Association.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Memphis Grizzlies have struggled on the road of late. Memphis has not won a game in enemy territory in 2018 (shockingly true) and has lost 17 straight contests away from the friendly confines of FedExForum. To make matters worse, Memphis has been especially bad in recent away games. The Grizzlies lost three of their last five games on the road by double digits, and only lost one of them by less than three possessions (against the also hapless Nets).

Meanwhile, while the Timberwolves have certainly missed Jimmy Butler of late they are still in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase, where the Grizzlies used to be. They are currently only two games from being outside the playoffs entirely, while they are also only two games out from hosting a first round playoff series. This fact should be very important to Minnesota, who is 27-9 at home but 15-23 on the road. Surely they know this, and would prefer to have a potential game seven at home then on the road.

All the more reason for the T’Wolves to run away with this one. How can Memphis pick up a rare road victory?

Jarell Martin: Developing in spite of circumstances

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before-

“JARELL MARTIN IS NOT A WING!”

Chances are if you frequent this blog enough, or if you’re active on #GrizzTwitter, you’ve heard this refrain quite a bit of late. That is because, for some reason, Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff insists on playing Jarell at the 3. While the 6’10” Martin is a good athlete in a stretch four sort of way, he looks out of place defending the likes of Ben Simmons...and players like Simmons know it.

In fairness to Jarell, most folks can’t defend Simmons consistently. But Martin, night in and night out, is put out on the perimeter to struggle through the “tank”. To his credit, though, he has played pretty dang hard every game and his efforts have resulted in improvements in his game. He is still quite limited in terms of offensive skill, especially as a wing. But he is using the opportunity in front of him to show that in his proper position, at the 4, he could be successful. He has scored double digit points in nine of his last 12 games, and he posted a double double in the last game for the Grizzlies against the Lakers.

A player who many thought may be waived at the start of the season has a real opportunity to be on this team in the future. Tonight will be another chance for him to make his case.

Collapse the paint

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota is 30th, dead last, in the NBA in three point attempts per game at 22.3 shots per contest. They shoot the ball alright (35.9%, 19th in the Association) but it is not an emphasis of Tom Thibodeau’s offense...at least it hasn’t been. Andrew Wiggins is the only player on their roster who attempts over 4 threes per game on average, and only one player (Karl-Anthony Towns) shoots over 3 threes per game and converts them at over 40% (KAT shoots an impressive 42.7% from beyond the arc...maybe he should shoot more threes?)

The Timberwolves want to attack the paint and kick out to open shooters, forcing defenses to foul or play consistently strong vertical defense. Memphis must collapse in to the lane and make Minnesota more perimeter based, or else they will risk playing right in to the hands of the T’Wolves.

The prediction

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Bickerstaff continues to coach for his next job, be it in Memphis or elsewhere. Unfortunately for him, without Tyreke Evans and without a home crowd that holds the team more accountable than when they are away from FedExForum, the Grizzlies are almost a lock to drop every road game not just tonight, but the rest of the way.

Home games. If you want to see the Grizzlies win, it’ll probably be in Memphis.

Minnesota 104, Memphis 95

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