WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (1-1, 1-0 home) vs. Washington Wizards (0-1, 0-1 road)
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: NBATV/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Fresh off a loss to the New York Superteam known as the Knicks, the Grizzlies will try to get back into the win column Sunday night as they visit the Washington Wizards for a primetime matchup. The Wizards haven’t played since Thursday, when they lost 114-99 to the Atlanta Hawks in their season opener. Memphis, meanwhile, will be playing the second game of a back-to-back and is in the midst of a stretch of playing five games in seven days.
All of this makes for an intriguing matchup. The Wizards will be fresh, while the Grizzlies are coming off a rough performance less than 24 hours prior and won’t have time to rest for a while. It’s far from ideal for the home team, but the game must go on.
Players to Watch for Memphis
Mike Conley & Marc Gasol: For this, the biggest question going into the game will be minutes played. Conley only played six first half minutes last night against the Knicks on his way to playing 23 total, while Marc played just 30. With Mike taking it easy last night, it’s possible that Fizdale gives Marc the same treatment Sunday.
Beyond the minutes restrictions, it’d be nice to see Memphis’ two leaders step up their play. Gasol didn’t look sharp in New York. Conley, for his part, made a couple of inexplicably bad passes and found himself being blown past by Derrick Rose. For the Grizzlies to win, the BFFs will need to play at a higher level.
Wade Baldwin: Early in this season, Fizdale has kept the young point guard’s minutes in the low 20’s, and it’d be surprising to see that change drastically in the near future. But even in the somewhat limited playing time, Baldwin has been impressive two games in to his young career. He’s looked explosive offensively, he’s shown active hands on the defensive end of the floor, and the jump shot that went missing in preseason has returned. For the young rookie, it’s been a case of “so far, so good.” Hopefully Sunday continues that storyline.
Players to Watch for Washington
John Wall: Wall is one of the most exciting young point guards in the NBA. He also feels personally slighted by every player (particularly those on his own team) who are getting paid more than he is. It’ll be incredibly interesting to see how this affects the dynamic as he and Conley face off.
All kidding aside, Wall is an incredibly exciting player to watch, and Memphis will need to slow him down in order to win. In the loss to the Hawks, Wall was held to 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting from the field. You’d have to think the Grizzlies would be thrilled to force that sort of performance from Wall.
On paper, the Grizzlies look to be the more talented team, and they’ll be back in front of their home crowd. That being said, there’s a number of factors working against them. For one, they’re coming off a road game and will be playing for the second straight night. For another, injuries and minute management will continue to hamstring Fizdale’s lineup options.
I expect another battle, but I think that the Grizzlies, playing at home, manage to eke out a close one.