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3 things to watch as the Mavs host the Grizzlies

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The days of Grit ‘n Grind are gone, but despite their record, the Grizzlies aren’t a pushover.

Memphis Grizzlies v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks and the Memphis Grizzlies have something in common. This season, both franchises are hovering near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. However, they each have a glimmer of hope for the future as both franchises netted franchise players in last summer’s NBA Draft. Both teams were also active before the trade deadline, sending away veteran players.

That’s about where the similarities end, though. Memphis leans more heavily on its veteran players while Dallas willfully runs out lineups that, aside from two or three players, are replete with young talent. So, how will these two teams fair tonight? Let’s take a look.

Not a boy, not yet a man

Luka Doncic turned 20 on the final day of February. During his time as a 19-year-old in the league, he accomplished some extraordinary things. He logged four triple doubles (the most for any teenager) and totaled 1194 points, 415 rebounds, and 324 assists with averages of 20.9, 7.3, and 5.7, respectively. The only other player to reach similar numbers before turning 20 is LeBron James.

What’s in store for his 20s? “Just play basketball, the same thing,” Doncic said after Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. He’s not one for wordy responses, but more of the same is good thing for the Mavericks and their fans. The team is his right now with Kristaps Porzingis out until next season. While that allows opponents to zero in on Doncic, he’s not letting it slow him down.

In his last two games, he’s averaged 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 8.5 assists. If this is what he means by “the same thing,” then everyone is going to be happy.

Last man standing

The Grit ‘n Grind Grizzlies are but a memory now. Mike Conley is the last remaining player from the team that was at one time everyone’s playoff dark horse contender. Tonight will be the 38th time he suits up against the Mavs. His numbers are modest when he squares off with Dallas, but they’re nothing to scoff at, averaging 15.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists.

Tonight, though, he may go off. He’s Memphis’ primary weapon these days and in his last five games, he’s averaged 21.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. He’s also getting to the line 7.8 times. With a bunch of young point guards matching up against him, Conley may look to assert himself early.

Old friends

Chandler Parsons is the old drinking buddy you still occasionally run into when you’re grabbing a drink over the weekend. You’ve both grown old and you resent that he’s still as handsome as he used to be even though he still downs vodka Red Bulls like he’s 24. But hey, the guy is doing well and you’re happy for him. What’s more, he’s back at work after a lengthy sabbatical he tells you.

The Grizzlies, who have kept Parsons on the bench for almost all of the season, recently invited him back to play. He’s appeared in the last four games, coming off the bench. In that time, he’s posted averages of 4.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and one assist. His shot, which if memory serves was as straight as a laser at times, hasn’t returned with him, however. He’s making just 21.4 percent of his attempts and 17.6 percent of his 3-pointers.

Bonus

Dirk Nowitzki, who started the last three games, is 69 points from passing Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list. Nice.

How to watch

7:30 pm on FSSW or NBA League Pass