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DeRozan-less Raptors Look to Bounce Back vs. Slumping Grizzlies: Preview, Start time and More

The Raps are feeling the January blues right now but will try to right the ship against a Grizzlies team that’s also struggling.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Toronto Raptors Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been tough sledding for the Toronto Raptors of late, but Canada’s lone NBA club will look to get back on the winning track Wednesday evening when they play in the second half of a back-to-back set on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies, who started the season on a solid 17-8 pace, have gone 9-12 since and look like a below-average basketball team right now. Memphis currently occupies the seventh spot in the Western Conference but is not playing like a team that’s ready to contend.

Toronto hasn’t exactly been setting the league on fire, as the Raps have lost four straight games in the wake of Tuesday’s 108-106 setback to the San Antonio Spurs. Sportsbooks are expecting the Grizz to triumph in this one, as most shops online and in Vegas opened Memphis as 4-point favourites for the contest.

The Raptors have dropped four straight and will be playing in the second game without All-Star starter shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who suffered a sprained right ankle in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 105-103 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Here are three things to watch out for in tonight’s game:

Struggling stars

Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are Memphis’s two undisputed star players, but they haven’t been playing like it recently. In the Grizzlies’ recent 20-game skid, the Grizzlies have boasted a net rating of 15.3 without Gasol on the floor and 8.3 with Conley on the bench. The duo are extremely important to this team, Gasol’s -4.8 net rating and Conley’s -4.6 net rating in that span leave much to be desired right now.

Where you at, Kyle?

Kyle Lowry is the straw that stirs the drink for the Raptors, but the dynamic point guard has been anything but a difference-maker for the Dinos in the past few weeks. Heading into the Spurs game, Lowry was shooting 35 percent from the floor and 26 percent from downtown over his previous three tilts. The Philadelphia native went 9-of-23 and 1-of-7 from beyond the arc against the Spurs but salvaged the night by going 11-of-12 from the charity stripe in a 30-point effort.

Bench discrepancy

The Raps possess one of the most potent bench lineups in the Association and the Grizzlies do not. Memphis has opted to go without a true point guard in the majority of its bench lineups, but Tony Allen bringing the ball up the floor does not strike fear into the heart of many opponents. Toronto can easily capitalize on this discrepancy when the starters hit the pine.

Where to watch: 8:00 p.m. ET, TSN