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Grizzlies at Wolves Game Thread

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The Wolves host the Grizzlies tonight at Target Center. Meanwhile in Atlanta...

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The two top teams in the NBA meet tonight in an inter-conference clash between squads that are playing some of the finest, most team oriented and lovely basketball the league has seen this or any other season. Multiple guys who will be in next week's All-Star game will be competing tonight in what could very well be a Finals preview.

These are the top two teams in FG%, 3P%, and EFG% in the NBA, running fantastic offense with an array of highly skilled basketball players. NBA fans have been anticipating this match up all week, and excitement is running high.

And then there's the game I'll be watching:

Grizzlies at Wolves
7:00 pm CST
FS North

The Grizzlies come in 2nd in the Western Conference at 37-12 and riding an eight game winning streak. They have the Hawks coming to town on Sunday themselves, so hopefully they will overlook the Wolves a bit, though I doubt it will help. The Grizz, as usual, are in the top 10 defensively this season--currently 7th in Drtg., but are having a much more successful offensive year than they have in the past.

Several things stick out: Courtney Lee entering the starting lineup and shooting 46% from three, Mike Conley's hot shooting, and especially Marc Gasol's bigger and incredibly efficient role in the offense. Team wide, their ability to get to the free throw line is dramatically better than it was last season. Gasol, Conley, and Zach Randolph are all shooting more free throws than they did last season when the Grizz were last in the league in FTAs.  They are also converting free throws at a higher rate--78%, good for 6th in the league.

As is always the case when the Wolves face the Grizzlies, the big concern is that they will be able to bully the Pups with their size and physicality. It's hard to see anyone on the Wolves matching up effectively with ZBo, to say nothing of Marc Gasol's skills in the high and low post. The Grizz have been a merely average rebounding team this year on both ends, but one imagines they will have little problem gobbling up rebounds should they choose to make the effort.

Jeff Green has moved into the starting lineup in recent games following his acquisition from the Boston Celtics, sending defensive ace Tony Allen to the bench, though Allen is still seeing plenty of playing time.

This is always a tough match up for the Wolves, and I really don't expect anything different tonight. These teams met on opening night and the Wolves hung in there despite 57 points combined from Gasol and Randolph. They did so with decent bench play and surprisingly effective offensive rebounding, but it was still a Grizzlies win in the end. Hopefully the Wolves can make this one interesting as well.

Expected lineups

Grizzlies

Mike Conley
Courtney Lee
Jeff Green
Zach Randolph
Marc Gasol

Wolves

Ricky Rubio
Kevin Martin
Andrew Wiggins
Thaddeus Young
Nikola Pekovic

Our blogging buddies this evening are at Grizzly Bear Blues. Be excellent.

No pics, gifs, links to illegal streams.

Enjoy the game. Chat here. Go Wolves.