GAME: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Time: 7:00 pm CST
PLACE: FedExForum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (26-21), Minnesota (24-26)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Minnesota – Luke Ridnour, Martell Webster, Wesley Johnson, Derrick Williams, Kevin Love
Both teams snapped losing streaks in their last outings, with Memphis defeating the hated Lakers at the end of a West Coast swing, while Minnesota dispensed with the visiting Nuggets. The Grizzlies are still trying to get acclimated to having a full complement of healthy players — something that they haven’t had in what seems like forever. For now, it appears that they will continue to bring Zach Randolph off of the bench as they attempt to find the right roster mix. In the game against L.A., they used great balance to defeat the Lakers, as 9 players took at least 6 shots with 7 of them scoring in double digits. Marc Gasol just missed joining them (8 points) as the Lakers big men continued to play supernatural defense without fouling once again. (Oh look….my sarcasm meter just broke again.)
The T’Wolves are suffering the effects of having lost Ricky Rubio for the season to injury, but they haven’t given up, so they are still a very dangerous team despite their recent woes. Kevin Love might be the most talented rebounder in the league right now. When they are hitting shots from the perimeter (as they did against Denver), then they are very difficult to beat.
Memphis has won both games these two teams have played this season, but neither victory has been in runaway fashion, so one should expect a close, hard-fought contest once again. For Memphis to win, they will have to continue playing great defense, as that was noticeably absent during their recent string of losses, but obviously present in their win on Sunday. Continuing to formulate a gameplan that maximizes the talents of Rudy, Zach, and Marc is of tantamount importance too, as they look to the postseason on th horizon.
Minnesota knows that the should get great production from Kevin Love, but the question for them will be “Who else is going to step up?”. Ridnour and Ellington provided scoring in their last game, and they will need something similar to that if they hope to win this contest. Crashing the boards and limiting turnovers will be key areas of interest, as always.
Prediction: Memphis wins, but not comfortably