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Mavericks at Grizzlies preview: can Dallas stop the Memphis front court?

The Mavericks take on the Grizzlies Monday in Memphis at 4 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and NBA TV.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

What have the Grizzlies done lately?

The Grizzlies will be looking to earn their fifth straight win today. Their recent winning streak has coincided with a three-game Portland losing streak to put Memphis just half a game out of second place in the Western Conference.

They also recently traded small forwards with the Boston Celtics, swapping Tayshaun Prince for Jeff Green, who's been logging major minutes during his three games with the Grizzlies. So far he's played major role in terms of point totals (he's wracked up 10, 21, and 17 points) but at just 25 percent from deep and 39.5 percent overall, his efficiency hasn't been impressive.

The Mavericks last saw the Grizzlies in Memphis in early December. Although the Grizzlies won by 10, the game was close until the final two minutes.

What team stat might determine the game?

Memphis is known as a gritty, defensive team, but their defensive efficiency this year hasn't been stellar. They do still play a slow, deliberate style of basketball (they're the fourth slowest team in the league and rarely turn the ball over) but while they were a top ten defense last year, they've slipped to 11th in defensive efficiency this season. In contrast, their offense has improved hugely. While they languished in the middle of the pack in 2014, they've gritted and grinded (ground?) their way to the 10th most efficient offense in the league.

This means that while they're not necessarily as well positioned to stop Dallas' offense as their reputation might suggest, the Mavericks are going to have to continue to step up their defense to counter this year's more balanced Grizzlies team. During their last meeting, Dallas was unable to stop Marc Gasol or prevent Mike Conley from getting into the paint, where Memphis was able to score 52 of their 114 points.

What are the match-ups to watch?

While Dallas seemed powerless to stop Memphis from scoring in the paint, they also struggled there on offense. Tyson Chandler scored zero points on 0-1 shooting during the 32 minutes he played. Similarly, Monta Ellis put up a frustrating stat line, going just 1-11 that night and logging more turnovers than assists. Hopefully they'll be looking for vengeance this time around.

The Grizzlies will be missing point guard Mike Conley, who's out indefinitely with two sprained ankles.

Tip off is at 4 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and NBA TV.