Memphis Grizzlies vs. Dallas Mavericks game preview

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WHO: Memphis Grizzly (12-10, 4-5 route) @ The Dallas Mavericks (11-9, 6-3 at home)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. CT

O: American Airlines Center – Dallas, Texas

HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast / 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant (Ext, knee), Sam Merrill (Ext, ankle), Ziaire Williams (Ext, knee), Kyle Anderson (Ext, back), Brandon Clarke (questionable, knee)

DALLAS: Frank Ntilikina (probable, right calf sprain), Kristaps Porzingis (doubtful, left knee contusion), Willie Cauley-Stein (out, personal reasons) – from last night’s Pelicans injury report Game

PROJECTED STARTING LINE:

MEMPHIS: Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams

DALLAS: Luka Doncic, Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell

Photo by Joe Murphy / NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies are performing well, having beaten the Oklahoma City Thunder with an NBA record of 73 points. In the process, they broke a bunch of franchise records in this game.

History has been written, but as the NBA moves forward, there is another game pending. This is recognized within the squad, as rookie Santi Aldama pointed out in the postgame that there is a game on Saturday that they need to prepare for.

This particular game also has some pretty interesting implications at the start of the season.

The Memphis Grizzlies hold a half-game lead over the Dallas Mavericks for 4th place in the Western Conference and lead of the Southwest Division. Getting those wins is crucial for playoff positioning and tiebreakers.

Dallas has its ups and downs. Some nights they look like a Western Conference contender on a dark horse, and they play like a play-in team in others. Nonetheless, they have a top 10 player at Luka Doncic to lean on, which will always make them somewhat dangerous.

Although we are deprived of a battle against Ja Morant and Luka Doncic, it should still be a competitive match between these two enemies of the division.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Serial number: X163173 TK1

Unicorn sightings

Jaren Jackson Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis are widely regarded as “unicorns” with their seemingly limitless reach, impeccable shot blocking, and beautiful fluidity in offensive creation and defensive change situations for their size. They are also both the main factors in the short and long term success of their team, in terms of the health and performance of both players. They were ravaged by injury issues early in their careers, but the two guys have the fascinating advantage of being difference-makers who bring Memphis and Dallas closer to a Larry O’Brien trophy.

Both players also played very good basketball – close to dream versions of their skills. Since the beginning of November, Jaren Jackson has averaged 17.2 points on 47.1 / 42.2 / 83.3 separate shots, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Over the same span, Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 21.4 points on 49.5 / 31.8 / 90.6 shooting, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 blocks. Their performances here to start the season must surely be encouraging for the teams and the fans.

Sadly, we’re probably going to miss a battle between two of the Association’s most unique great men tonight. However, there will be a unicorn sighting one way or another. And for Memphis, theirs will likely play the biggest decision maker in the outcome of the game.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Photo by Joe Murphy / NBAE via Getty Images

Contain the other guys

The Mavericks have a pretty inconsistent cast of role players. Aside from Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jalen Brunson are really the only guys they could count on for an offensive production every night. This is not a total affront to the crew around them; it’s just not in their responsibilities or their strengths.

However, they must limit random explosions. What are the names to watch out for? Does Dorian Finney-Smith ignite 3? Maxi Kleber wreaking havoc on both sides of the ball? Does Reggie Bullock come to life and explode?

Sometimes the good players – like Luka, Hardaway Jr. and Brunson – will get theirs. If you slow them down, your chances of winning increase exponentially. When it does, you’re just hoping to avoid the explosion of an unsung hero.

With a large number of rotating players for Memphis – Ja, Anderson, Williams and potentially Clarke – the next men will need to bring in their A-game defensively to help lead the team to victory.

Final prediction

I almost don’t want to predict this game because of the volatility. Any night, these teams could beat the league contenders; and on another, drop a game where they look like a lottery team.

It is difficult to assess. Surely, Dallas will look to come out with an advantage after being beaten at home by the Pelicans. Then Memphis will look to continue their good streak of play so far.

I don’t know, let’s go for some reverse psychology.

Final Prediction: Dallas 108, Grizzlies 103

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