Opposition Intel: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Memphis Grizzlies Preview With Ian Pierno

As the Milwaukee Bucks look to get back to winning ways after a few days off, we caught up with Ian Pierno of Beale Street Bears as the Memphis Grizzlies are the visitors to Milwaukee.

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Welcome to Opposition Intel!

Riding the crest of a wave with some spectacular wins a little over a week ago, the Milwaukee Bucks have now lost back-to-back games to teams who were winless prior to matching up with Jason Kidd‘s team.

That crash back down to the earth may have given the Bucks some much needed grounding in terms of the bigger picture, but sitting with a record of 4-4, it remains in Milwaukee’s interest to get back on track soon.

As they try to do that on Saturday, their opponent will be David Fizdale’s Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have matched Milwaukee’s 4-4 record in the early running, and much healthier than they were for most of last year, they certainly aren’t a team to be taken lightly.

Ahead of the action, we spoke to Memphis Grizzlies writer and friend of the site Ian Pierno to find out exactly what to expect in the game, and to learn about what matchups we should be looking out for.

Ian writes about the Grizzlies as a site expert over at FanSided’s Beale Street Bears. You can follow him on Twitter at @IanPierno.

Let’s take a look at what he had to say.

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New Coach, New Team?

Adam McGee (@AdamMcGee11): With a 4-4 start to the season, the beginnings of the David Fizdale era have been pretty solid for the Grizzlies. What have the noticeable differences been about his team so far?

Ian Pierno (@IanPierno): The differences between David Fizdale and Dave Joerger are drastic. With such a small sample size and key guys sitting out to start the year, it’s been tough to see what kind of offense the team is actually going to run, but we’ve seen glimpses. The increased number of three-point attempts make the team’s offense far harder to defend and also allows the team to make the most out of Marc Gasol‘s unique ability to pass out of the post.

He made a pretty ballsy move in shifting last year’s leading scorer, Zach Randolph, to more of a sixth man role, but it’s paid off. Randolph has relished the new role, averaging 23.4 points and 13.4 rebounds per 36 minutes so far this season.

Also, fans have appreciated Fizdale’s willingness to give young players big minutes, something that Joerger refused to do, even in a dead-end season. While playing Wade Baldwin IV and Andrew Harrison have been out of necessity, young guys like JaMychal Green and James Ennis have thrived when put in the starting lineup.

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Gasol’s New Range

Adam: A big talking point around the Grizzlies early on has been Marc Gasol’s increased three-point attempts. How does that change his game and do you expect that early season trend to continue?

Ian: Most defenders don’t know how to guard the perimeter or close out on shots from the three-point line, so it makes him such a dynamic scorer.

When Gasol was single-handedly downing the Wizards with a barrage of three-pointers earlier this year, most of his looks were wide open as Marcin Gortat got clogged down in the paint.

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Thoughts On The Bucks

Adam: What’s your impression of Milwaukee’s current roster and how do you expect them to fare over the course of the season?

Ian: Losing Khris Middleton really hurts the Bucks, but they’re still going to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (that’s not a dig against Matthew Dellavedova, who I think fell into a good niche in Milwaukee). I still can’t believe how young this team’s core is, putting them up there with the Lakers and Timberwolves as eventual title contenders, at least in my book.

Also, Thon Maker‘s per 36 minutes stats are insane. Get this man on the court!

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Matchup To Watch

Adam: If you were to single out one matchup as having the potential to be decisive between the Bucks and Grizzlies, what would it be and why?

Ian: I have no idea who David Fizdale will throw at Giannis Antetokounmpo. Tony Allen isn’t long or athletic enough and Chandler Parsons is coming back from a knee injury, so I’m not sure how quick he can move laterally.

JaMychal Green did a solid job against Anthony Davis, but the Grizzlies utilized a plethora on-ball double teams, which would be costly against a player than can pass as well as Antetokounmpo.

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Final Predictions

Adam: What’s your final prediction for how Saturday’s game between the two teams will finish up?

Ian: Bucks win, 110-106.

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Thanks to Ian for joining us and giving us some Grizzlies insight. Once again, be sure to follow Ian on Twitter at @IanPierno and read his work on Beale Street Bears.

Be sure to check back in with us on Sunday for all of the reactions to Sunday’s game from the Bradley Center, where tip-off is at 7.30pm CT.

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