March 3, 2013; Orlando FL, USA; Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley (11) calls a play as he dribbles the ball against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (23-41) @ Memphis Grizzlies (44-21)


Since going 1-3 in the 4 games immediately following the Rudy Gay trade to Toronto, the Grizzlies have gone 14-3, keeping pace a game behind the #3 seeded Los Angeles Clippers. Safe to say life without Rudy has treated the Grizzlies well. Replacing a guy who shoots almost 20 times a game (and shoots 40% on the season) with a guy who shoots 10 times a game (and shoots 44% on the season) isn’t the offensive death knell it was reported it would be — nevermind the more consistent defense (and championship savvy?) the new guy brings.

Grizzlies porbable starting lineup:

PG Mike Conley

SG Tony Allen

SF Tayshaun Prince

PF Zach Randolph

C Marc Gasol

Zach Randolph has been back for 4 games since missing 4 with a sprained ankle. The Grizzlies have gone 6-2 in that span, losing to the Nuggest and the Jazz, but Z-Bo is putting up Z-Bo-ish numbers: 17/11 on 53% shooting.

Mike Conley is said to have played against the Jazz Saturday with a sprained wrist. It didn’t stop him from putting up 18 shots (making 6), but Conley is one of the Grizzlies getting more (better) shots in the post-Gay Grizzly offense. He’s putting up 16 points, 8 assists and 2.3 steals while shooting 46% for the merry month of March.

Another interesting development since Rudy’s been gone: Gasol’s assists (and minutes and points and shooting percentage) are up while his rebounding is down. Pau’s little brother is taking and making over 2 more shots a game while assisting on 2 more, as well. For March, Marc is at 17 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists on 13 shots and 58% shooting.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Luke Ridnour

SF Andrei Kirilenko

PF Derrick Williams

C Nikola Pekovic

Pek and AK were thrown into live game action Sunday night against New Orleans without so much as a practice and it showed. Save AK’s clutch blocks and Pek’s offensive rebounding late, the rust was out there against the Hornets.

The mountains of men, Pek and Gasol, will collide tonight in Memphis. AK on Tayshaun has to set some kind of record as one of the biggest collective reach; all arms out there at small forward. D-Will will need to bring one of those sneaky, run-the-floor and stick the mid-to-long-range jumpers nights against Z-Bo; because the lbs favor Memphis at power forward. Conley and Allen routinely lead the league in most swipes for a backcourt, constantly gambling while the Grizz frontcourt hold things down. The Wolves perimeter game will be tested for their handles and accuracy. Things could get… Grizzly.

Tags: Memphis Grizzlies Minnesota Timberwolves Pregame Preview