WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO LISTEN: 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/NBA League Pass
Memphis- Jordan Adams (Out, Knee), Brandan Wright (Questionable, Knee)
Golden State- NONE
For the Warriors' perspective, visit out buddies at Golden State Of Mind
It is much easier to look forward to Memphis Grizzlies' games after the past five quarters of basketball. It would appear that the "Grit and Grind" era's demise may have been slightly exaggerated, as Memphis has performed admirably in both a comeback attempt in Utah against the Jazz and in a competitive contest with the hated Los Angeles Clippers. While offense continues to be hard to come by, effort and defensive tenacity has returned. As the Bears of Beale Street return home to the friendly confines of the FedExForum tonight after their longest road trip of the season, fans should be feeling a bit more positive than they did 72 hours ago.
That's a good thing, too, because this new found positive mojo will be tested. The Grizzlies welcome the Golden State Warriors to Memphis tonight, the same Warriors who beat the tar out of the Grizz 119-69 just nine days ago in California. Stephen Curry was a monster, Draymond Green had far too much success from range and Golden State was simply just that much better than Memphis on that night.
But tonight is a new night, and these Grizzlies will hopefully show some competitive flare as they play in front of their home crowd for the first times in a week and a half. Three keys to tonight's game:
How the Trade Affects the Game
Mario Chalmers and James Ennis are now officially members of the Memphis Grizzlies, but as of this writing their availability for tonight's contest was still up in the air. If Chalmers and Ennis are indeed active (Ennis is unlikely to play whether the trade is processed or not), Dave Joerger may well give minutes to the man known as "Rio" at the back-up Point Guard spot right away. Chalmers' value as compared to Beno Udrih has been, and will continue to be, discussed: his willingness to launch the three ball, his almost certain upgrade over Beno defensively, his ability to play next to Mike Conley and add another ball handler to any lineup he plays with all play a role in why he was acquired. We may get our first taste of that tonight.
And if we don't? Russ Smith will likely see more run, with more minutes for Courtney Lee and Jeff Green (haha) at the Point Guard/Forward spot. Aggressive scoring attempts with the bench should increase, and the fit of a Chalmers or Russ Smith alongside a Matt Barnes or Brandan Wright (if he is able to play) bears watching.
Whether Chalmers plays or not, we will see some different sets and lineups that we have yet to see much of so far this season.
More Barnes, Please
Yes, yes, this goes against the eye test and the numbers. Barnes has drawn a good bit of the ire of Grizzlies fans so far due to his knucklehead antics and his inability to score the ball from range so far in the 2015-2016 campaign. However, a closer look at what Barnes does leads you to want to see more of him on the floor. Barnes does the little things, makes the winning plays, attacking adversity in games and fighting through it with an exemplary mental toughness. Whether it is through defensive switching communication on the perimeter or setting screens for screeners to get better position for shooters and slashers, Barnes is fun to watch.
Hopefully some of those shots start to fall more consistently, as that would make it that much harder for Head Coach Dave Joerger to not play him more often. Those winning plays will also result in more...you know...winning if he is putting more efficient scores on the board.
Spacing, Spacing, Spacing
Our own Andrew Ford did a tremendous job yesterday breaking down just how the Grizzlies' offense has struggled with their spacing so far this season. Whether it is because of poor physical placement or the fact that the aforementioned Barnes or the always mentioned in some way Jeff Green cannot hit threes right now, defenses are collapsing and Memphis is not able to make them pay.
This is fixable, as Andrew states in his piece. It comes down to execution and basketball IQ: the Grizzlies must know where they are on the floor at all times and create spacing through screening and aligning on the perimeter. The Warriors will collapse, the Grizzlies' shooters will get open looks and they must make Golden State pay for picking their poison.
You will notice none of the above keys really involve the Warriors. That is because on nights like tonight, the opponent does not matter because of their effectiveness. The Warriors are seven-point favorites tonight in Memphis, which may be giving the Grizzlies a bit too much credit, but it also acknowledges the fact that Steph Curry has cooled off some and Memphis may have darn well righted the ship.
All that being said, Golden State is simply better right now than just about everyone in the Association. While tonight may well be a competitive game, it is hard to logically go from a 50-point loss nine days ago to a miracle win in Memphis. Let tomorrow and beyond be the restoration, the run back to consistent success. For now? Execute against a great defense, get everyone involved and allow for Marc Gasol and company to continue growth.
They may not win, but as long as the competitive Grizzlies of the past five quarters show up it will all be worth it in the long run.
Memphis 93, Golden State 102
|Memphis Grizzlies||Golden State Warriors|
|Point Guard||Mike Conley||Stephen Curry|
|Shooting Guard||Courtney Lee||Klay Thompson|
|Small Forward||Tony Allen||Harrison Barnes|
|Power Forward||Zach Randolph||Draymond Green|
|Center||Marc Gasol||Festus Ezeli|