After a tough overtime home loss to the streaking Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks (3-15) face the Memphis Grizzlies (7-9) in Memphis on Wednesday night at the FedExForum. We are just a month into the season, and surprisingly enough, this is already the third meeting between the two teams. With the season series tied at 1-1 apiece, let’s run through two positional matchups that could ultimately define how tonight’s game transpires.
Point Guard Battle
Due to an Achilles injury to All-Star point guard Mike Conley the Grizzlies have handed their main ball-handling duties over to 9-year veteran, Mario Chalmers. The Conley injury has been a massive blow to the Grizzlies as the team has dropped four straight games without Conley and five games overall. Memphis’ customary stingy defense has been far from it during the five-game losing streak, conceding 108.4 points-per-game. After an impressive 4-0 start in their home arena, the Grizzlies are looking to avoid dropping their sixth straight game at the “Grindhouse”. The Grizzlies last win at their home arena was on October 28th versus Houston, just two days after defeating the Mavericks.
With a massive hole to fill at point guard, the Mavericks guards should be aggressive from the tip. Dennis Smith Jr., told, Earl K Sneed of Mavs.com, earlier today, “We know what Memphis is about. It’s ‘Grind City.’ You know, they play hard. Mike Conley is out, though, and he’s the head of the snake with Gasol. So, we’ve got to come out and attack early, especially with Conley out.”
The point guard position will set the table in defining how the Mavericks perform tonight.
Do the Mavs have an answer for Marc Gasol?
The Mavs center position has been in flux all season. The team has trotted Dirk out as the starting center to maximize spacing on the offensive end. Defensively the Mavs have tried to hide and protect Dirk at all cost. Rick Carlisle has filed through stints of Nerlens Noel, Salah Mejri and Dwight Powell at center — all with limited success.
Tonight they will run into a behemoth of a center in Marc Gasol for the third time in nineteen games. The 7-foot-1 255 pound monster has been an issue for the Mavs. During the first matchup in which the Mavs came up victorious 103-94, Gasol logged 37 minutes and threw up a stat line of 26 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals on 9 of 15 shooting including a blistering 5 of 7 from 3 point territory. The following night Gasol put up a similar stat line in a victory for the Grizzlies logging 33 minutes and posting 25 points, 13 rebounds, three assists on 8 of 16 shooting from the field.
With Conley out, it is imperative for the Mavericks to limit Gasol at all cost. David Fisdale will mix and match his lineups in order to get the best out of his Grizzlies. Watch out for Tyreke Evans off the bench, the ninth year combo guard currently leads the NBA in points scored off the bench by a reserve.
Tonight’s game tips off at 7:00 p.m. CST and can be seen locally on Fox Sports Southwest.