The Dallas Mavericks (1-1) return home for the second game of a back-to-back and continue division play when the Memphis Grizzlies (1-1) visit tonight. The Grizzlies won 111-108 in overtime against the Detroit Pistons Friday night. The Mavs look to bounce back from last night’s defeat in Houston.
GAME AT HAND: The Southwest division doesn’t provide many easy nights and this will be no different. A night after playing the star-led Rockets, the Mavs now face a griddy, defensive-minded Grizzlies team headed by reigning Defensive Player of the Year center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley.
It’s hard to determine a team’s outlook only two games into a season, but early on defense hasn’t been the strong suit for the Mavs and Grizz. Dallas is tied with Washington surrendering an NBA-worst 111 points and Memphis isn’t far behind giving up 104.5 points.
Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki are averaging 49 points together after two games. The Grizzlies don’t have a 20-point scorer, led by Conley’s 18 points and an early surprise 15.5 points per night from defensive specialist Tony Allen.
Dallas has won 52 of the 70 games against the Grizzlies franchise, but lost the season series 1-3 last year.
THREE KEYS FOR A WIN:
1. Compete on the glass. The Mavs received a fabulous effort from reserve big man DeJuan Blair who hauled in 10 boards (5 OREB) in only 18 minutes. Need our front court led by Shawn Marion’s nine rebounds per game to win the battle against Gasol and Zach Randolph.
2. Protect the ball and limit turnovers. Memphis ranks 5th in the league with 22.5 points scored off other team’s giveaways. Dallas is allowing a league-worst 13.5 steals a contest and surrender 22 points off overall turnovers.
3. Start of the game needs to be stronger. After falling in an early 22-point hole against the Rockets kept Dallas buried until a late push in the 4th quarter. A team without a defensive identity right now will struggle playing from behind.
”We have to play better at the start of the game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. ”Our play in the first quarter put us in such a hole that we could never get back over the hump.”
MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Monta Ellis vs. Tony Allen
It’s always fun when one of the league’s top scorers face off against one of the game’s elite individual defenders.
Ellis had his way for an explosive opening night and even had plenty good looks in Houston despite his 7-for-19 shooting. Allen will work to keep Monta out of the lane where he’s most effective. Ellis settled for too many long range two-point shots last night.
It’s unlikely Ellis defends Allen, but rather checks the speedy Conley. As mentioned earlier, Allen isn’t known for his scoring but has averaged 15.5 points this season.
If Allen can limit Ellis’ effectiveness tonight, it’ll be up to Jose Calderon to bust out of his early season slump and create for the Mavericks offensively.
INJURIES: Dallas - Brandan Wright OUT (Shoulder); Shane Larkin OUT (ankle); Devin Harris OUT (toe) | Memphis – None
Game action tips at 7:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest & Sports South.