Homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs is crucial, and it is slowly slipping away from the Memphis Grizzlies. Every single game from here on out is extremely important and will carry postseason implications.
The two teams have met just once this season. Back in November the Grizzlies won by 10 points at home, but the situation is a little different this time around. Marc Gasol has missed Memphis’ last two games and is out indefinitely with an abdominal tear. To make matters worse, the game will be played at Madison Square Garden.
But there are still ways the Grizzlies can come out victorious tonight. The Knicks will most likely be without a defensive anchor of their own, as Tyson Chandler is still bothered by injuries. They will also be playing on the end of a back-to-back, returning home from last night’s game against the Boston Celtics.
In the short absence of Gasol, Mike Conley has asserted himself as the go-to guy for Memphis, averaging 17.5 points, 8.5 assists and 3.5 steals over the last two games. His persistent defense will be the Grizzlies’ biggest weapon in tonight’s game. J.R. Smith was on fire last night, and Tony Allen will most likely take on the task of containing the explosive guard.
With Chandler most likely ruled out, the Grizzlies will need to make a habit out of exploiting Zach Randolph’s strength in the post by going to him early and often.
This game is of significant importance, as Memphis is just 0.5 games behind the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
Vytis is an NBA columnist for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis