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Wizards vs. Grizzlies Pregame: Ground And Pound

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Regular Season Game 27

Grizzlies (16-14) at Wizards (12-14)

December 23, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

December 14, 2015 at Verizon Center, Washington, DC: Grizzlies 112, Wizards 95


What to watch

Ground and Pound. As the entire league has gotten smaller and smaller, the Grizzlies remain the leagues ancient relic. Even as they’ve tried multiple line-ups, and tried Zach Randolph off the bench, the Grizzlies remain a team that plays generally slow, big, and pounding.

The Grizzlies currently play the 7th slowest pace in the league, while attempting the 3rd fewest three point attempts per game in the league, with just 17.2 attempts per game. Yet in past seasons, the Grizzlies made up for their lack of pace and three point shooting by maximizing each possession by getting good shots, and by playing stellar defense. But this year? This year the Grizzlies rank 25th in offensive rating, and are just a middle of the pack defensive team. The result has been an underwhelming season that feels worse than their 16-14 record.

The Grizzlies are hoping to survive the regular season, get into the playoffs, and then turn their regular season struggles into playoff success. The Wizards are hoping to do the same.


Key matchup

Marc vs. Marc.

Dec 14, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the first quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the first quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Marcin Gortat had a stellar outing two nights ago against DeMarcus Cousins, and he will need to have a similar effort tonight against Marc Gasol. He will have his hands full. Cousins is not a bad defensive player, but Marc Gasol is a stellar defensive player, both individually and as a team defender, guarding pick and rolls, and protecting the rim.

The Wizards will have to get the pick and roll game going to get open looks for the Wizards perimeter players, who are less than starting quality at the moment (with the obvious exception of John Wall). We know Wall will do his part. Can the Polish Hammer do the same against Big Spain?


X-factor

Injuries. The Wizards remain depleted, and even the guys who may return to the lineup are unlikely to be 100%. So far, the bench guys have done well. Garrett Temple starred against Sacramento, and Kelly Oubre has looked promising. A lot of the credit goes to John Wall, who has been a pure Maestro orchestrating the offense and creating the type of looks you usually only get during the morning shoot around. They’ve survived the injuries so far, but how long can it last?


Fun factor

John Wall, M.D.

With injuries depleting the Wizards, John Wall has become the doctor responsible for keeping the Wizards alive. And he has responded, keeping the Wizards on ICU season on life support. He is using PHD level basketball IQ to analyze defenses, and using the basketball as his scalpel to slice up defenses with surgical precision. The Hoop District Assist Counter has been running non-stop, at close tom maximum power, and you can expect more of the same tonight. As long as his running mates are in suboptimal health, Wall will remain in Optimus Dime mode. Ideally, the Wizards would be in better health, playing better basketball, and would not need Wall to be heroic every night. But right now, Wall’s putting on a cape, and a caped John Wall is fun to watch.


Prediction

John Wall M.D. conducts yet another successful Assist Counter Clinic, saves Wizards lives yet again.

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