Wizards vs. Grizzlies preview: Can the Wiz Kids score on Grit 'N Grind?

USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards have one final back-to-back set before the All Star break. Tonight, they go up against the Grit 'N Grind Memphis Grizzlies that could be without star point guard Mike Conley.

It wasn't pretty, but the Wizards got a much-needed win against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. Now, they're on the front-end of a back-to-back before the All Star break, and it'll be nice to see them string together a pair of victories on the road.

That'll be a tall order, though, with Memphis tonight and Houston tomorrow looming on the horizon.

Where and when? Tip-off is at 8 p.m. at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

Are they good? As it stands, they rank ninth in the Western Conference and four games over .500. They've been on a roll since the New Year thanks to Marc Gasol getting healthy, going 12-3 in the month of January, and are really starting to rev up their defensive intensity as of late. Only two teams have scored over 100 points on them in the past 15 games and this has largely come without their best perimeter defender, Tony Allen, in the lineup.

Who's out? The Wizards will be without Al Harrington at least until after the All Star break. The Grizz are without Quincy Pondexter (out for the remainder of the season with a stress fracture in his foot) and Allen till after the All Star break (small fracture in his hand). There's a chance that Mike Conley, who has been nursing a right ankle sprain, returns tonight, but with the break looming, their training staff may hold him out.

What are they good at? Defense. They may not be the Grit 'N Grind Memphis Grizzlies of last year, but they are a damn good unit anchored by Gasol in the middle. They started the year off slow, as their defense ranked just 21st in the league following their game against the Hawks on January 12. Since then, Gasol has returned, and the team has climbed nine spots in the defensive efficiency rankings.

What are they bad at? They're a plodding team on offense with and without Conley in the lineup. They're dead last in pace this season, and without Conley, the offense has taken a nosedive. I mentioned how their defense has held opponents to under 100 points the past 15 games, but their offense has scored as much just twice in that span as well. Memphis is just 2-5 without Conley, and this has nothing to do with his replacement, Nick Calathes, who's actually performed admirably in his place.

What happened the last time these two met? A guy by the name of John Wall dropped 47 points on a ridiculous 13-22 field goals while going to the line 24 times.


Who's going to win? I'm going with Washington tonight. They're the best fast-breaking team in the league going up against an extremely slow one that doesn't defend well in transition. Obviously this requires getting stops on defense and rebounding well, both areas that benefit the Wizards greatly (Memphis is just 23rd in rebounding this year).

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