By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards road trip makes a stop in Memphis as they take on a new-look Grizzlies team tonight at FedEx Forum (8:00 pm | TV: CSN+ | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams.
On Wednesday, the Grizzlies dealt one of the staples of their franchise as they sent Rudy Gay packing for Toronto in a move made for financial reasons. In return, they received Ed Davis from Toronto and Tayshaun Prince and Austine Daye from Detroit. Gay was a big part of the Grizzlies offensive attack and tonight will be the first time they feature their new trio of players.
Last night, the Grizzlies fell, 106-89, to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road. They played shorthanded with only nine active players, but tonight their newcomers are expected to be in uniform and active for their clash with the Wizards. Even without Gay, the Grizz still present one of the biggest and toughest front courts in the league. Zach Randolh and Marc Gasol provide a lot of girth up front and their matchup with Emeka Okafor and Nene will be what to watch for tonight.
The Wizards are coming off back-to-back losses to the Kings and Sixers and need to get back to playing the way they had been in the previous ten games. They seemed to lose a little bit of their spark that was seen with the return of John Wall. They have a tough back-to-back stretch on their hands now going up against two of the top teams in the Western Conference in Memphis and San Antonio. They will need to share the ball and execute their offense to give themselves a chance to steal one in Memphis tonight against a team trying to get adjusted to their new roster.
The calendar has turned to February, but don't tell Martell Webster. He averaged 12.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in the month of January (16 games) & in his last five games, Webster averaged 13.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. During this stretch, he shot 50% (20-of-40) from the field and .46% (11-of-24) from three-point range.
The action kicks off at 8pm.
Emeka Okafor has been on a tear over the past five games, averaging 13.4 points and 14.6 rebounds per game. He has scored at least 15 points and grabbed at least 15 rebounds in three straight games for the first time since November 8-14 of 2006, when he did it in four straight games for the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Wizards will need another big outing out of Okafor and maybe more importantly rely on his defense to shut down the Grizzlies bigs. Marc Gasol is a center who can do a little bit of everything. He has a good post game, he can pass the ball out of the post, he can hit jump shots and block shots. The Wizards will need to attack the glass and send double teams at times to try and limit the Grizzlies post presence tonight.
In the below clip, Okafor talks about the team's visit to the hospital and their upcoming game in Memphis.
In this clip, Wall addressed the media after Monday's game.