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Bucks vs. Grizzlies Preview: Let's Get Defensive

The Milwaukee Bucks will host the undefeated Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night in a matchup of allergies to triple digit scoring on both ends of the floor. Defensive basketball nerds, unite!

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
14/15 NBA Season
(2-4, 1-1 home)
(6-0, 4-0 away)
November 8, 2014
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:30 CT
Fox Sports Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Brandon Knight PG Mike Conley
Jared Dudley SG Courtney Lee
Jabari Parker SF Tony Allen
Ersan Ilyasova PF Zach Randolph
Larry Sanders C Marc Gasol
2014/15 Advanced Stats
96.5 (13th)
Pace 94.0 (25th)
96.5 (25th) ORtg 99.9 (20th)
96.2 (5th)
DRtg 91.6 (2nd)

Opponent Coverage
Grizzly Bear BluesCommercial Appeal

Game CoverageBucks vs. Grizzlies coverage

The Memphis Grizzlies are undefeated. The Milwaukee Bucks are not. The Bucks and Grizzlies will meet in Milwaukee Saturday night on the second night of a back-to-back. These are facts.

As much as the Bucks have changed over the last year, Memphis has stayed the same, punctuating stout, disruptive defense with frontcourt-heavy offensive sets featuring Marc Gasol at the elbow (or wherever, really) and Zach Randolph throwing himself around in the post.

The Bucks' chances at a victory hinge on keeping the Grizzlies out of their sloth-like comfort zone, pushing the pace on the break, and forcing the Grizzlies to over-commit on players constantly moving in and out of the paint.

Things to watch:

After scoring a career-high 18 points against the Pistons Friday night, Jabari Parker will face a Grizzlies team that eats aggressive drives and interior offense for breakfast. Randolph and Gasol are big, physical, and smart. Drawing Tony Allen as a defensive matchup adds a sprinkle of intrigue, so if you weren't planning on watching Parker operate tonight (you were), please reconsider.

Brandon Knight is currently in some rare offensive company, but you wouldn't know it from the team's record or the fan base's ambiguity towards his worth. The margin of error for Knight's system reboots and reckless endangerment is thinner than usual, but his ability to keep the team moving in transition will determine how long the Bucks stick around or maintain a lead.

Larry Sanders is great at defending the rim, blocking shots, and playing generally fun defensive basketball. In a quintessential "best offense is a good defense" game, he's worth more of your time than usual.

Giannis Antetokounmpo can dunk pretty easily. We should watch for more of those.

Other facts of interest:

The Grizzlies like to take their time (6th longest TOP).The Bucks do not (6th shortest TOP).

The Bucks block lots of shots (6.4 - 6th). The Grizzlies do not (2.8 - 30th).

Both teams play great interior defense, ranking third (Bucks) and fourth (Grizzlies) in fewest opponent makes at the rim in 2014. Subsequently, opponents shoot 49% (5th) and 44% (2nd), respectively, in the close area.

Both teams love facilitating the offense at the elbow, with the Grizzlies ranking 2nd in elbow touches per game and the Bucks ranking 4th.

The Memphis starters listed above account for 77% of the Grizzlies' scoring in 2014.

The Grizzlies have won five straight at the Bradley Center and eight straight overall against the Bucks.

If either team tops 100 points tonight, consider this preview a token for a free drink when/if I ever meet you in person.