One of the most exciting sports moments I’ve seen — and yeah, it wasn’t a playoff win or anything — was this December’s overtime win over the Phoenix Suns here in Memphis. Zach Randolph had a dominant performance during regulation time, but in the overtime he took over. He ended up with 38 points and 22 rebound (and, well, zero assists) and the Grizzlies won 108–98.
Since then matchups with the Suns have been… complicated. The Grizzlies lost at Phoenix on December 12th, 82–80. On January 6, they won in Phoenix, 92–81.
Phoenix isn’t very good this year, but something about Goran Dragic and Luis Scola and Martin Gortat gives the Grizzlies problems. The Suns are able to match up well with the Grizzlies’ star frontcourt players, and Scola is able to essentially score at will on the offensive end.
This will also be the first game that new Grizzlies Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis, and Austin Daye have had time to actually practice with the team, and it should be interesting to see what coach Lionel Hollins does to fit the new guys into the rotation. It's already been publicized that Prince will start at the small forward spot tonight.
If the Grizzlies are going to win tonight, they’re going to have to get the offense going early and build a lead that they can hold on to. Fourth quarters haven’t been great for the Griz this season, so if Randolph and Marc Gasol can establish the inside scoring game in the paint, the rest should fall in to place.
The Mike Conley/Goran Dragic matchup is going to be a fun one to watch. Dragic is a dynamic scorer and a really fun player to watch, and sometimes Conley struggles keeping him under control.
It’ll also be interesting to see what Lionel Hollins decides to do with his bench backcourt. He hinted that Tony Wroten’s minutes will be severely curtailed, but it’s clear from Wroten’s recent run of big minutes that Jerryd Bayless plays a lot more comfortably when he’s not feeling the pressure of being the primary ball-handler. Whether Hollins decides to go with Wroten/Bayless or Bayless and Chris Johnson or something else yet unseen will reveal a lot about who Hollins thinks is trustworthy.
Should be a fun one! Game starts at 7 Memphis time.