Who: Memphis Grizzlies at Washington Wizards
When: 6:00 PM CST
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Records: Memphis (47-22), Washington (25-44)
Media: Sportsouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis has clinched a playoff berth but is still fighting hard for home court advantage in the playoffs and a franchise record for road wins in this game. The Grizzlies are on a season long 3 games road losing streak however and will likely be without starting center Marc Gasol, who is resting a slight tear of his abdominal muscle. The Grizzlies held off the Boston Celtics for their 10th straight home win 110-1o6 Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd. Led by backup Jerryd Bayless’ 30 points, the Grizzlies built a 21 point fourth quarter lead before allowing the Celtics to charge back before icing the game with 6 straight free throws in the final minutes. Darrell Arthur returned to action with 18 points and 7 rebounds in a rare start for Zach Randolph who was benched for showing up late to shoot around.
Washington opened the season 0-12 as John Wall and Nene nursed injuries and had only 4 wins at the start of the new year but have been respectable of late with both players healthy again. Washington is 18-17 at home on the season with wins over Miami, Oklahoma City, Denver and most recently the Lakers on their resume. The Wizards are immensely talented but as injury prone as any team in the league. All five starters have dealt with numerous injuries in their careers except rookie Bradley Beal who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury. Injuries are still effecting the Wizards with Beal, Ariza and Price all questionable for this game. The Wizards are attempting to win their 6th straight home game for the first time since 2010.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs John Wall
Wall was supposed to be a Memphis Tiger but Coach Cal’s departure took him to Kentucky as well. A restricted free agent this summer, Wall has been playing at a high level in March shooting 51.6% from the field and 50.0% from the arc while scoring 19.8 PPG. He is also averaging 8 assists a game and 4.3 rebounds so Wall can expect a rather nice pay raise this summer. Mike Conley has been the Point Guard in Memphis for years now but this year he has been leading the team in many different ways. 2nd in the league in steals Conley is averaging 16.7 PPG, 7.3 APG and 2.4 SPG in March.
Tony Allen vs Bradley Beal
Rookie Bradley Beal has a sore ankle that held him out of the Warriors game Saturday night but is going to receive votes for Eastern Conference ROY. In March Beal is averaging 13.4 PPG on 45.6% shooting while grabbing 5.6 RPG and dishing out 2.2 APG. Pretty impressive numbers for a rookie. Tony Allen had a rare double-double in Saturday’s win over the Celtics grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 10 points. Allen has made big plays all season usually on the defensive end but could be an offensive factor on back cuts and on the offensive glass against the rookie who is hobbled.
Tayshaun Prince vs Martell Webster
Webster never really was comfortable in Portland and Minnesota but seems to have found a home with the Wizards. Webster is averaging a career high 29.1 MPG (33.6 in March) as well as in FG% (45.6%) and 3 point shooting (45.6%). Webster is a beautiful shooter but has never been very effective scoring due to his weak ball handling skills. Overcoming the injury bug this season has helped him get into the game more. Prince has been his quite efficient self since joining the Grizzlies although his shooting percentage has been a bit low (41.1% in March). Prince however is not expected to score as much as defend and he still does that as well as anyone.
Zach Randolph vs Nene
Zach Randolph has been a double-double machine this season but his offense has dropped a bit from his career norms. At 15.7 PPG and 11.3 RPG in March, Randolph can’t be ignored but he hasn’t been the feared scorer he was before his knee injury. Randolph is still the Grizzlies #1 option in crunch time but they are more than content to go elsewhere now as well. Nene had a promising career derailed by injuries. When healthy Nene is a near all-star performer but the healthy stints don’t come often enough or last long enough for serious consideration. Healthy right now, Nene is averaging 14.2 PPG and 7.0 RPG in March.
Darrell Arthur vs Emeka Okafor
It didn’t take Arthur long to shake off the rust from his sore back and neck suffered in Orlando. After looking out of sorts in New Orleans Arthur was on top of his game against Boston scoring 18 points and grabbing 7 boards. Arthur may not start in favor of Ed Davis but his experience and stronger physique make him the likely choice. Okafor has averaged 10.4 PPG and 9.2 RPG in March. He has a limited offensive repertoire but is one of the better defensive centers in the league despite only standing 6-10.
Jerryd Bayless has always been a streaky shooter and he is on one of the best streaks of his career of late. In March Bayless is averaging 13.3 PPG on 47.1 FG%. He was also the first Grizzlies player to score 30 points in a game this season when he hit that mark against the Celtics. Bayless has scored in double figures in six straight games and led the Grizzlies in scoring in two of those games. Quincy Pondexter is one of the best statistical 3 point shooter on the team but has been struggling of late. Ed Davis has been up and down since the trade but has looked good when given minutes and with Gasol out the minutes should be available. Washington has a very thin bench as well with Trevor Ariza leading the bench since Jordan Crawford was traded. Promising young players like Kevin Serafin gives Washington hope but with Ariza fighting the flu, A J Price out with an injury and Cartier Martin struggling the future is not here yet.
Truth About It