Game: Memphis Grizzlies vs Dallas Mavericks
When: 7:00 pm CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis Grizzlies (19-15), Dallas Mavericks (21-14)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Dallas – Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood
Memphis was one of the hottest teams in the league entering the All-Star break having gone 7-2 over their last nine games. Offensively the team has been led by All-Star Marc Gasol in the middle, Rudy Gay on the perimeter and Mike Conley at the point but it has been Tony Allen’s defense that has made the greatest impact on the team. Allen’s energy on both ends of the court and his harassing defensive presence has led the Grizzlies to a top 10 position (8th) among defenses in the NBA.
The Grizzlies were happy to have the All-Star break but now enter the most difficult stretch of the season. Every home game takes on huge importance as the Grizzlies play only 5 home games between now and April 1st compared to 10 road games. The Grizzlies currently sit in 7th place in the Western Conference but are only 5 games out of first place in the Southwest Division and 5 games ahead of 13th place in the Western Conference. Every game is very important from this point on.
Dallas was also hot heading into the All-Star break winning 7 of their last 9 as well but were handed a set back right before the break losing at home to the LA Lakers. That combined with the shocking loss at home to New Jersey has Dallas back on their heals. The Mavs are rated the 4th best defensive unit in the league but their major weakness defensively was exposed in the Lakers game as Andrew Bynum went for 19 points and 14 rebounds. Brook Lopez went for 38 last night. Brendan Haywood is a decent rebounder but too slow to defend legitimate scoring bigs and that is exactly what Marc Gasol is.
Dallas doesn’t have the deep bench anymore that helped carry them to the NBA Championship last season. Gone are J J Barrea, Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic, DeShawn Stevenson, Corey Brewer and Steve Novak. After Jason Terry the Mavs struggle to find points off the bench. Adding to that weakness is Lamar Odom who has left the team to be with his ill father and to work out some personal issues. Rodrique Beaubois has returned to the team after dealing with the death of his father.
Dallas’ starting five is among the best and oldest in the league . Jason Kidd (38), Vince Carter (35), Shawn Marion (33), Dirk Nowitzki (33) Haywood (32) have great experience but questionable legs late in games. Sixth man Jason Terry (34) and Delonte West (28) don’t make the Mavs any younger either.
Prediction: Memphis will be fresher, at home and needs the win more. All that adds up to a Grizzlies victory.