The battle for seventh place and not having to play the San Antonio Spurs will be decided tonight. The Dallas Mavericks take on the Memphis Grizzlies, each at 49-32. Neither team wants to face the Spurs and a matchup with either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Los Angeles Clippers are both more favorable. The Mavs have swept the Grizzlies so far this season winning three straight so going into the matchup the Mavs have the upper hand.
The Game at Hand:
The Grizzlies come into the game winning four straight and probably playing their best basketball of the year. They’ve won four must win games in a row beating Miami, Philadelphia, the Lakers and Monday’s exciting game against the Phoenix Suns to clinch a playoff berth.
Each team plays a different style with the Grizzlies force feeding their bigs Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on seemingly every possession. The Mavs move the ball around using plenty pick and roll to create an open looks.
The Mavs have answered the bell lately only losing to the Spurs in the past six games. Their defense has been better and with the Grizzlies as their last opponent, they will need to play some of the best inside defense they have all year. The Mavs will also be going for their 50th win of the season, a huge accomplishment when you look at the 41 wins from just a year ago.
Keys to the Game:
1. Guarding Zach Randolph:
Zach Randolph has been an absolute beast of late, bullying opposing power forwards and getting to the paint with ease. In the must win against the Suns, Randolph posted 32 points and 9 rebounds. He destroyed the likes of Channing Frye and any Morris twin they put on him. When Randolph is hot it makes the entire Grizzlies team better opening room up for Mike Conley and giving even more freedom for Marc Gasol.
Dejuan Blair may have to step up tonight as he seems like a pretty good body to body matchup against Randolph, and as the story is seemingly every night the beast version of Samuel Dalembert will need to show up and do his best to neutralize Marc Gasol.
With Randolph and Gasol being the Grizzlies’ emphasis on offense we have to keep the second chance points to a minimum. In the Mavs last meeting against the Grizzlies the Mavs out-rebounded the Grizzlies 35-32 and ended up winning the game pretty easily. In Memphis’s huge win against the Suns they out-rebounded them 42-30. Not only do we have to watch Gasol and Randolph but Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen like to get in on it too.
There were many honorable mentions in this games key’s to the game. Mike Conley hit some huge shots at the end of the game in Pheonix and Tony Allen has the ability to really give Monta Ellis some trouble on offense. The take home point here is everyone needs to be on his absolute A game to be able to keep the 7th seed.
Matchup of the Night:
Dirk Nowitzki vs Zach Randolph
Both Randolph and Dirk will have the upper hand on offense. Randolph is a bully down low and will take Dirk to the paint, potentially making him uncomfortable. On the other end of the floor Dirk is quicker and taller, if his mid range shot is on, like it normally is in big games, this could also frustrate Randolph. In my opinion, the winner of this matchup will likely be on the winning team.
“That’s the goal we set at the beginning of the season, that if we get 50 wins we’ll be in the playoffs.”
– Monta Ellis
When and Where:
Tip-off is in Memphis, Tennessee at FedEx Forum and will start at 7:00 PM CST. It will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Looks like the magic number to allow the Mavs to jettison their pick to OKC is 1. A Toronto loss or a Dallas win will leave Mavs in top 10.
— Steven Kilpatrick (@TheMadSpin) April 15, 2014
Winner – Locks in 7th Seed and will play OKC if the Thunder win vs Detroit tonight. If OKC loses to Detroit and the Clippers win in Portland, winner will face LAC in first round
Loser – Will be the 8th seed and face the San Antonio Spurs
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