Memphis: Vince Carter is OUT (torn tendon in left foot)
Phoenix: No injuries to report
The Big Story
The Grizzlies have won 10 of the last 11 games, playing some of the most dominant basketball of the Grit 'n Grind era, including Saturday night's smackdown of the Oklahoma City Thunder on "Wrestling Night."
Of course, this dominant stretch run to the All-Star break began with a thrilling - if largely unnecessary - double overtime victory over the Suns just over three weeks ago. The Grizzlies controlled nearly the entire game yet allowed the Suns to come back and force overtime in what was starting to become a rather annoying trend. Of course, had the refs not missed an egregious basket interference play by Eric Bledsoe, the game would have ended in regulation. This was also the game when 2014-2015 "Beast Mode" Zach Randolph appeared before us for the first time and put an absolute shellacking on the helpless, feckless Morris twins in the first quarter, scoring a Klay Thompson-esque 18 points on 6 of 7 shots.
Beast Mode Z-Bo has been in full effect the past few weeks, and we're starting to run out of superlatives for this guy. I believed it when I wrote that he was the team's MVP on January 22nd, but I knew that it would be the subject of robust debate. Today, I'm not sure there's a debate to be made to the contrary. Beast Mode Z-Bo is absolutely in the All-NBA conversation if he's able to keep this up. Hell, if he's able to keep this up, we're gonna win a damn championship.
More good news: Zach has been known to feast on the Suns, and they do not have the firepower to compete with the Grizzlies inside. The team's been doing a much better job of closing out on shooters, and the only way that Phoenix can get by the surging Grizz right now is to heave it. Good luck.
The Other Story
OKC is in a lot of trouble. That was a poor team effort on Saturday night, but a couple of things stood out to me: 1) they have no identity on the interior since apparently Serge Ibaka doesn't enter the lanes unless he's trying to swipe a layup from a guard, Steven Adams' git-inda-thi-skin routine is getting noticed by the refs now and producing diminishing returns, and Kendrick Perkins isn't a real professional basketball player anymore; and 2) Dion Waiters is a complete disaster. OK, it's not like they didn't know what they were getting into when they signed him. It was always gonna be a lot of this:
"I get the ball more playing for the Thunder"-Dion Waiters https://t.co/Py3gTGS0Xp— NBANewsAnd1 (@NBANewsAnd1) January 29, 2015
But my goodness, a couple of plays on Saturday seemed to just completely deflate the team. He'd catch the ball and face up Tony Allen, dribble for 10 seconds and heave up some of the worst bricks I've ever seen in a professional basketball game. It's like watching a slower, fatter, shorter version of Nick Young who's not nearly as good of a shooter. I have no idea what Sam Presti was thinking signing him, or why in the world Scott Brooks is playing him, but ABANDON SHIP, THUNDER.
By The Time I Get To Phoenix
This isn't difficult: feed Zach and Marc. The Grizzlies are a lot better than the Suns, and they can create match-up opportunities in a bunch of different places, but Markieff Morris and Alex Len can't handle our guys. If we can keep the PG trio of Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, and Eric Bledsoe from going off - and watch for young upstart Nick Calathes to play an enhanced role in doing just that tonight - then the Grizz should move to 36-12.
Prediction: Grizzlies 102 - Suns 88