Who: Orlando Magic (7-11, 3-5 road) at Memphis Grizzlies (11-8, 5-4 home)
When: 7:00 PM CT
Where: FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee
How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Memphis Grizzlies: Zach Randolph (out, personal), Brandan Wright/Mike Conley/James Ennis/Chandler Parsons (out, various injuries), Vince Carter (Questionable, hip)
Orlando Magic: Elfrid Payton (Questionable, ankle), Jodie Meeks (Out, foot)
While this is a welcome home game for the Grizzlies, it comes at a brutal time for them. It’s the second night of a back-to-back after a trip up north, and it’s part of a five-in-seven stretch. On top of that, Memphis’ injury woes have been well documented. The silver lining here is Memphis’ performance the night before. Against a good Toronto squad, Memphis and their nine active players played well enough to take a lead into halftime before the Raptors fought back in the second.
Orlando comes in on a high of its own, having just bested perennial powerhouse San Antonio on the Spurs’ home floor. The Magic were able to hold the Spurs to just 83 points, and limited Kawhi Leonard to 21.
This game presents an intriguing matchup of two teams with question marks coming off of unexpectedly strong performances.
What 2 Watch 4-
Memphis Offense vs. Orlando Defense: Memphis was able to score pretty consistently against the Raptors on Wednesday night, but that was against a Toronto team with a defense ranked 24th in the league per Basketball Reference’s DRtg. Orlando, on the other hand, enters the game with the seventh best defense, having just stymied the Spurs’ top ten offense.
Memphis’ young guns will have their work cut out for them. I fully expect this game to be a low-scoring affair, particularly since Memphis is coming off a day of travel. Fortunately, Orlando’s offense is a tire fire. They’re two-tenths of a point per 100 possessions from being dead last in the NBA, an honor which currently belongs to the Mavericks.
Managing Marc Gasol’s Minutes: Memphis being as shorthanded as they are really puts the Grizzlies into a tricky situation. They need to be cognizant the big man’s minutes, but with Conley and so many other key pieces missing, they’re caught between a rock and a hard place. Really, until Randolph returns, the Grizzlies don’t have a reliable scoring option outside of Big Spain. Any restriction of Marc’s minutes also becomes a massive restriction on the offense.
Gasol played 34 minutes last night, including a few minutes after the game appeared out of reach. It’ll be interesting to see how Fizdale, who hasn’t done the best job of minimizing Marc’s playing time in games that were out of hand, deals with Marc tonight.
Wade Baldwin IV: Early in camp it looked like Wade Baldwin had the inside track to the back-up point guard spot. That quickly changed. Baldwin’s minutes were winnowed down before he was eventually sent to the D-League. Hopefully more playing time sharpens Baldwin’s play, or, at the very least, helps him play better than he did against Toronto. That’s not too much to ask, right?
Jeff Green Revenge Game: LOL JK.