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Game Preview: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Orlando Magic

The race to convey continues...

NBA: Preseason-Memphis Grizzlies at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Orlando Magic (31-36 13-20 away) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (27-40, 17-17 home)

WHEN: 5:00 PM CT

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee

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


Magic: Markelle Fultz (Out, shoulder), Mo Bamba (Out, foot), Timofey Mozgov (Out, knee)

MEMPHIS: Avery Bradley (Probable, ankle), CJ Miles (Probable, knee), Kyle Anderson(Out, shoulder), Dillon Brooks (Out, toe), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, thigh)


MAGIC: D.J. Augustin, Evan Fournier, Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic

MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Avery Bradley, Justin Holiday, Bruno Caboclo, Jonas Valanciunas

The race to convey continues, as the Memphis Grizzlies look to extend their winning streak to 3 games as they take on the Orlando Magic today.

The Grizzlies have won 3 of their past 4 games, and if it wasn’t for a blown lead against Oklahoma City, they could be riding a four-game winning streak right now. This energetic bunch has shown a lot of fight, as their closest margin of defeat since the All-Star break is 6 points.

Today’s game has huge convey implications. They’ve closed the margin between them and the Washington Wizards and the Dallas Mavericks — both tied for 7th — to half a game. So, a win here, and a Mavericks loss to Houston today, would move them into a tie for the 7th spot with Washington.

With their recent play, it wouldn’t be so shocking to see them ultimately convey the pick.

Matchup to Watch

  • Nikola Vucevic vs. Jonas Valanciunas

Damn injuries. I was really looking forward to a potential Jaren Jackson Jr. vs. Aaron Gordon battle, or one between Kyle Anderson and Jonathan Isaac. However, injuries suck. Despite that, we still have a great battle at the center position on our hands, as Valanciunas will go up against All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic.

At 28, the Magic big man has broken out and had his best season as a pro, earning his first All-Star nod. He’s averaging 20.6 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1.2 blocks a game, career-best’s across the board. Surely, this season will earn him a huge payday this summer, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Meanwhile, with more touches and opportunity, Jonas Valanicunas is thriving in Memphis. Since arriving on Beale Street, the newly-acquired big man is averaging 19.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in only 25.8 minutes of action.

The reason why this matchup is so compelling is, these two big men are quite similar. Both have been known for their “old-school big man” tendencies, and their per-36 numbers have been quite similar. When arriving in Memphis, I pegged Valanciunas’ ceiling as Vucevic, as he could potentially be one of these big man that’s sort of a late-bloomer with more opportunities to grow and by modernizing his game a bit.

Follow @sbngrizzlies for live coverage on today’s game.

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