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Game Preview: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Charlotte Hornets

After a heartbreaking buzzer beater in Minnesota, the Grizzlies continue on the road against the Charlotte Hornets.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (20-32, 8-18 away) vs. Charlotte Hornets (24-26, 17-8 home)

WHERE: Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina

WHEN: 6:00 PM CT

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

INJURY REPORT-

MEMPHIS- Chandler Parsons (Out, Feelings); Dillon Brooks (Out, Toe); Garrett Temple (Doubtful, Shoulder); Mike Conley (Questionable, Knee); Jaren Jackson Jr. (Questionable, Quad); Omri Casspi (Out, Knee)

CHARLOTTE- Tony Parker (Probable, Ankle); Cody Zeller (Out, Hand)

PROBABLE STARTERS-

MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Jevon Carter,, Justin Holliday, Jaren Jackson Jr, Marc Gasol

CHARLOTTE- Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Bismack Biyombo


Just when you thought the season couldn’t go worse, the Grizzlies had to travel to subzero temperatures and lose on a buzzer beater in overtime against Minnesota. The team now starts out the month of February traveling the Charlotte as the second stop on the Grizzlies mini three-game road trip. It is a game with two teams that have been full of question marks all season long, not really knowing what you will get from them on a nightly basis.

Charlotte is coming off a beat down at the hands of the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night losing in that contest 126-94. It was the same problem the Hornets have faced all season long of Kemba having a solid scoring night doing a lot for the team, but no one else on the roster contributing enough to get the win. It is the same problem they will face tonight against the Grizzlies.

Memphis ended their last one in heartbreaking fashion as they fought their way to force overtime only to lose at the end of the game on a Karl-Anthony Towns buzzer beater. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol both gave it their absolute all in that one, and the team still could not get it done. It may be a fitting send off for those two if they end up being traded this coming week.

It was only just last week these two teams were paired up against each other. The Hornets came into Memphis and took the win 118-107 with a Kemba Walker leading Charlotte in scoring with 22 points. This game was the first game the Grizzlies had played since the Woj Bomb dropped that the Grizzlies were taking offers for their two franchise players. Gasol showed off his skills that night notching a 22-17-10 triple double while Conley casually scored 31 points as well. If those two go off like that in an 11-point loss, something isn’t right with the team moving forward.

For tonight, maybe the team will need to battle around who to play in this game because there is no reason to go all out to win this game a week before the trade deadline.

Here are two thing to watch in tonight’s contest:

Bench Your Assets

The first thing I wanted to mention is the hopeful strategy the Grizzlies will adopt. It is not specifically related to the X’s and O’s of this game, but it is worth mentioning because of the importance in their status for tonight’s game.

Even if no one wants to hear it, the Grizzlies need to sit Gasol and Conley until the have traded them or the deadline has passed. What is the good in playing either of these two in this game when both are injury prone? It would be the absolute worse case scenario if Gasol hurt his ankle once again in a meaningless game against Charlotte. His trade value would be completely shot at that point, and then he would be even more likely to eat up 25 million on the Grizzlies books going into next year.

The Grizzlies trade deadline assets can only depreciate in value. Bickerstaff should sit them tonight, and then Grizzlies fans need to pray to the high heavens that Chris Wallace actually completes a deal for them no matter what the return is. As we all saw with Tyreke Evans, letting a player walk away without getting value for them is just terrible mismanagement.

Conley being questionable could mean that they get the message.

Kemba Walker

As for the actual game being played on the court, the Grizzlies will have the most trouble with the man mentioned in the beginning, Kemba Walker. He has been one of the best stories all season long averaging 24.4 points, 5.6 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game. Compare that to his career average in points which is only 19.4. He is 100% deserving of a starting spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star selections and is also the one who would appreciate it the most.

Kemba will be a force tonight without much defense coming from the Grizzlies. As Conley’s status is unsure in tonight’s game, Kemba may have himself a 30+ point night. These two players are very similar in that regard of scoring first guards. It is why Gasol to the Hornets is such an intriguing proposition. Either way, Walker is going to take his 10 or more threes a game, so if the Grizzlies actually want to win this game, they need to take away the perimeter and make other players beat you. Much easier said then done though.

The Prediction

With all that being said, I predict the Hornets to win easy tonight. Even though they went to overtime the other night, the team still played so poorly and could not score 100 points with an extra five minutes added on. It wasn’t even good Memphis defense. It was just a comedy of errors by both teams causing the score to be lower. I predict that will continue tonight.

Best case scenario for the Grizzlies, Gasol plays limited minutes, but he puts on a show in front of Michael Jordan watching courtside. Then, from this game and the last triple-double, Jordan calls up Wallace to do a deal before next week. That is better than any win they Grizzlies could have tonight.

Spread: Charlotte -4.5

Take the Hornets and lay the points. Unfortunately, I feel pretty good about a Grizzlies double digit loss in this one. That is especially the case if Conley is out which I presume he may be if the front office is smart. Take advantage of this line before Vegas corrects for Conley.

Memphis- 91, Charlotte- 105

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