WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (18-9, 11-4 home) vs. Sacramento Kings (9-16, 4-10 away)
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: James Ennis (Probable, Calf), Mike Conley (Doubtful, Back), Chandler Parsons (Doubtful, Knee), Deyonta Davis (Out, Foot), Brandan Wright (Out, Ankle)
SACRAMENTO: Rudy Gay (Questionable, Hip), Ben McLemore (Questionable, Quad)
MEMPHIS- Andrew Harrison, Tony Allen, Troy Williams, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
SACRAMENTO- Darren Collison, Garrett Temple, Omri Casspi, DeMarcus Cousins, Kosta Koufos
It is almost like a family reunion tonight, in Memphis.
Dave Joerger returns to FedExForum tonight as an opposing coach of the Sacramento Kings to take on the Grizzlies. If he wants advice on how to react to being on the opposing sidelines in Memphis for the first time, he could talk to one of the multiple former Grizzlies on his roster- Rudy Gay, Matt Barnes, and Kosta Koufos are all Memphis alums like Joerger. With so many familiar faces, Dave must feel right at home on the West Coast.
Meanwhile, in Memphis, the Grizzlies are preparing for a reunion of their own. The news from The Vertical last night that Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons are returning sooner rather than later, perhaps this weekend and maybe even tonight, was music to Grizzlies fans ears. Sure, the team has played admirably in their absence led by Marc Gasol, but we still don’t know what these Grizzlies are capable of when fully healthy. James Ennis, a forgotten-too-often man himself, returns tonight for sure, and as these guys get back in to the fold it will only make Memphis that much more dangerous.
Sacramento is in town. How does Memphis pull out another victory?
- Respect Rudy- Yes, I know Memphis fans, Rudy Gay left an undesirable legacy in the Bluff City. But Rudy can be an offensive force, especially when he is clicking next to DeMarcus Cousins, and Memphis is still a bit thin on the wings. James Ennis will just be coming back, Chandler Parsons likely won’t play, and Troy Williams has shown having issues with defending bigger wings. Rudy has a post-up game, has hit 35% of his threes this season, and is also facilitating for others at 3 assists per game.
I am not saying fear Rudy. I am saying respect him and find him offensively if he plays.
- Battle with Boogie- DeMarcus Cousins remains the life blood of the Sacramento Kings. He is averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds a game, and he is shooting well from three himself (36.9%). Marc Gasol and Cousins have had pretty good battles in the past, but the younger Boogie has given Marc all he can handle. It will be up to Gasol and perhaps JaMychal Green to limit Cousins’ effectiveness through physicality and attention to his spot on the floor at all times.
- Get Up Early- On bad teams, it can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. “Oh no, here we go again.” Memphis must make Sacramento think that as soon as possible in this game, and the best way to do that is through a fast start. Force turnovers, attack the rim to get the Kings in early foul trouble, jump on Sacramento and get them to think it is all going downhill. Joerger does not have the Kings mentally prepared to overcome deficits consistently yet.
Considering how hard the past few games seemed to possibly be, this is a breath of fresh air. There is an energy around the team with the cavalry of Ennis, Parsons, and Conley on the horizon, and the Grizzlies are a team on the way up while Sacramento seems to still be down. The Kings have talent, and if Memphis starts slow Sacramento can hurt them and keep this game close all the way through. But considering this is Dave Joerger’s first game back in FedExForum, I think Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol will have all the motivation they need to get Memphis a good home win.
Memphis 102, Sacramento 90