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5 Questions with Mavs Moneyball

Grizzlies try to make it 6 in a row Wednesday night against Dallas

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In a surprise to pretty much everybody, the Memphis Grizzlies come into tonight’s game against Dallas winners of 5 straight games. One of those wins came this past Saturday night against the very same Dallas Mavericks.

But, the Dallas team the Grizz face tonight will look a little different than the team they defeated 97-90. Both Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are expected to suit up after missing the previous matchup.

To break down all things Mavericks, one of the best in the biz Lauren Gunn from Mavs Moneyball answered 5 Questions ahead of tonight’s matchup.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

1. The Grizzlies were able to take the first game between these two teams on Saturday. In the grand scheme of things, how important is it for Dallas to come out with a victory tonight?

In the grand scheme of things, not very important. Dallas is on a tough stretch right now and has been struggling with injuries for the last several weeks. A lot of Mavs fans are panicking because we continue to drop games to teams that we should be winning against, like the Pelicans and Wizards for example. Memphis is a tough, young team that plays with a lot of grit - pun intended - but Dallas’ biggest problem right now is interior defense. They give up too many easy buckets which makes it difficult when you have a lot of guys who are also in a shooting slump. Slumps come and go, but the defensive presence has to be there every night. The more games go by where the paint presence seems to be nonexistent, the more it feels as if there’s a sense of urgency to make a move to get that. Going up against someone like Jaren Jackson Jr. does not make that easy. Steven Adams also gives us trouble because he’s just so big.

2. Dallas is Top-10 in 3PT attempts and makes, while the Grizzlies struggle defending the 3. Is it as simple as if Dallas can knock down the 3 better than they did on Saturday, then they will win?

It is and it isn’t. Dallas has always prioritized offense more than defense. This season, they are trying to balance the scales so they don’t have to be so reliant upon whether or not they can knock down threes night in and night out. However, it’s clear that this group has a greater point of emphasis on the offensive end of the floor as opposed to the defensive end. In the short term, if Dallas can knock down their three’s, they will win...and that might have more to do with Ja being out than anything else. If they stand pat and try to repeat this formula in the playoffs, it won’t end well.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

3. A quarter of the way into the season, what’s your biggest surprise and disappointment so far for Dallas?

Biggest surprise for me has been Frank. He has missed a few games recently with injury, so that answer might sound crazy but it’s true for me. He’s carved out a niche role here and I like what he brings. Not sure what that says about the rest of the team besides they’re all doing exactly what was expected or are underperforming. The biggest disappointment has been Reggie Bullock, but only because he hasn’t shot well. I’m a firm believer in “shooters shoot,” so he’ll get it back sooner or later.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

4. Dallas is 0-4 without Luka — who needs to step up more on games that he misses?

The answer will always be Porzingis. He’s having a solid year, but when Luka is out for a game or even resting for a few minutes, KP needs to be the clear focal point of the offense. We need to be able to rely on him to get a bucket every time down the floor and that hasn’t been the case yet. I’m happy with him and what he’s giving us this year, but we’ll need more come playoff time.

5. What are you looking forward to seeing from the Grizzlies in tonight’s game?

I’m looking forward to seeing how Dallas tries to defend the inside. They’re on a rough stretch which has been a result of poor defense, like I mentioned earlier. JJJ, Adams, and Tillman all present a challenge, so I will look to see what the Mavs can do to offset that.

A huge thanks to Lauren for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. You can follow Lauren here, listen to her podcast The Gunn Shot, or check out her work and all things Mavs at Mavs Moneyball.

For more Grizzlies talk, subscribe to the Grizzly Bear Blues podcast network on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and IHeart. Follow Grizzly Bear Blues on Twitter and Instagram.