The Toronto Raptors look to rebound tonight after a shaky effort against the Bulls to start their stretch run. They'll make a quick stop at the ACC to take on the Memphis Grizzlies before heading to New York tomorrow.
The Grizzlies are a team in semi-flux; stalwarts Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen are still in place, but the rest of the roster is drastically different from the one that made the Western Conference Finals in 2013. With Gasol out for 4-6 weeks because of a broken foot, they seemed to decide 'Hey, let's get absolutely crazy and see if that works!' at the trade deadline, adding Lance Stephenson and Chris Andersen to a team that already features Matt Barnes and Randolph.
Written off by many because of the Gasol injury, they've won both games since he went down, and are now sitting at 32-22 and in the 5th seed in the Western Conference playoff race. It will be interesting to see how the changes they made at the deadline
Here are your keys to the game.
Take Care of the Rock and Keep Your Hands to Yourself
Despite all the roster changes, Memphis is a team with a clear identity. They don't shoot the ball particularly well from anywhere on the floor, and surprisingly, they're a bottom 5 team in rebounds per 100 possessions. What they love is playing physical defense so that they can create turnovers and get to the line. That's it, that's all. The Grizz rank 4th in the NBA by generating 16.5 turnovers per game.They also rank 5th in free throw attempts (25.8 per game) and 4th in team free throw percentage (79.0). The path to victory is discipline, but obviously that's easier said than done.
His Name is Jonas
A sterling performance from Jonas Valanciunas was wasted against the Bulls on Friday, as the Lithuanian big man posted a season high 25 points to go along with 12 rebounds, 6 of which were on the offensive glass. With Marc Gasol out, Z-Bo has been pressed into starting center duties for Memphis. Randolph is a bruising post defender, but at this stage in his career he's ill-suited to guard a guy with the mobility of Valanciunas. With Brandan Wright still on a minutes limit, the Grizzlies options to guard the post (JaMychal Green, Chris Andersen) are less than inspiring. Toronto should feed Jonas early and often.
Don't Let Vince Carter Beat You. Wait, What Year is This?
Vince played a season high 25:46 in the Grizzlies game against Minnesota on Friday night, and was very effective, scoring 15 points on 5-10 shooting, including 3-8 from downtown. Now, one of those three triples was a 73 foot buzzer beating bomb, but still. With Courtney Lee and Jeff Green gone, Carter is likely to see a lot of floor time down the stretch for the Grizz. Toronto's perimeter D looked leakier than a rowboat with termites on Friday, so here's hoping they can tighten things up and shut down 'Half Man-Half Geritol'.
Where to Watch: TSN, 6:00pm EST