Grizzlies-Celtics Preview

BY foxsports • March 8, 2016

After pulling off an improbable road upset without four starters, the Memphis Grizzlies have certainly garnered the attention of the Boston Celtics.

With Zach Randolph looking to torment Boston again in his return, the Celtics insist they'll be cautious not to overlook the banged-up Grizzlies when they chase their longest home winning streak in over 25 years Wednesday night.

Memphis (38-25) is already missing leading scorer Marc Gasol, but things got worse Monday when Randolph, Mike Conley, Chris Andersen and Matt Barnes were sidelined against the Eastern Conference's best team.

Tony Allen, however, stepped up with a season-high 26 points after missing eight games with a knee injury, Mario Chalmers and Lance Stephenson scored 17 apiece and JaMychal Green had 16 in a shocking 106-103 win at Cleveland.

"It was just a game for us to get better," Allen said. "When you've got all the guys from one through 15 (and) they believe, then the sky is the limit."

The Grizzlies have won eight of 11 as they try to reel in a 3 1/2-game deficit to the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers for home-court advantage in the West playoffs. Despite all their injuries, they're playing well offensively with 105.9 points per game and a 48.0 field-goal percentage in their last 16.

Randolph averaged 18.6 points over a 13-game stretch before struggling in Sunday's loss to Phoenix and sitting Monday. He's expected to return against a Boston team he torched for 25 points and 13 rebounds in a 101-98 home win Jan. 10.

Conley did not play in that contest and he's out again due to a sore left foot. Barnes (hamstring) and Andersen (shoulder) will also remain sidelined.

After LeBron James admitted the Cavaliers "didn't respect" the short-handed Grizzlies, the Celtics (38-26) are focused on taking them seriously as they try to win 14 in a row at home for first time since an 18-game run Nov. 14, 1990-Jan. 11, 1991.

"I don't know if that impacts your preparation, them going into Cleveland and winning," coach Brad Stevens said. "You have to play well to beat these guys. This is a team that has won regardless of who has been on the floor."

Stevens' club has scored 112.1 points per game during its run at home. Isaiah Thomas has totaled 62 in the past two at TD Garden, while Jae Crowder has averaged 17.8 over his last six there.

Boston is a half-game ahead of Miami for third place in the East after winning 16 of 21 overall. The Celtics, though, look to avoid their first back-to-back losses since Jan. 18 and 20 following Saturday's 120-103 defeat to Cleveland.

Jared Sullinger, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds, is questionable with a skin infection that landed him in the hospital. Kelly Olynyk, however, could play after missing the past nine games because of a shoulder injury.

The Celtics have the January meeting fresh in their minds. Even though Thomas scored 35, they couldn't hold a 21-point lead while getting outscored 63-45, outrebounded 35-14 and committing 10 turnovers in the second half.

"They pretty much manhandled us in the last game," Stevens recalled.

The Grizzlies have won six of seven in this series, losing 95-92 in the most recent meeting at Boston last March 11.