Site Manager’s note - Thanks to die-hard Grizzlies fan and self-described “sarcasm queen” Stacie Montero for the guest game preview! Follow her on Twitter @staciemontero
WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (18-10, 11-5 home) vs. Utah Jazz (17-10, 7-5 away)
WHEN: 5:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: James Ennis (Game time decision, Calf), Chandler Parsons (Game time decision, Knee), Deyonta Davis (Out, Foot), Brandan Wright (Out, Ankle)
UTAH: George Hill (Game time decision, Toe), Alec Burks (Out, Ankle)
MEMPHIS - Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Troy Williams, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
UTAH - Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Boris Diaw, Rudy Gobert
Quin Snyder and the Utah Jazz arrive in Memphis on a 3 game win streak, winning 10 of their last 11. They are half a game back from the Grizzlies for the five seed in the Western Conference despite the absence of point guard George Hill. He has been sidelined for the last 8 games with a toe sprain. In Friday night’s victory over the Dallas Mavericks, Rudy Gobert led the Jazz in scoring with 16 points and finished the game with his 17th double-double of the season. The Jazz defense, ranked 3rd in the NBA, looked sloppy down the stretch and allowed the Mavericks to climb back into the game despite a 15 point deficit. Following a missed 3 point attempt from Deron Williams, Rodney Hood grabbed the rebound, pushed the ball up the floor, and drilled a 3 point shot with only 0.8 seconds left on the clock. He finished the game with 15 points.
The Grizzlies enter the match-up looking to bounce back from Friday night’s loss at home to the Sacramento Kings. While they are still not at full strength, Christmas did come a bit early in the form of Mike Conley’s return on Friday night. It’s rumored that we could see Ennis and Parsons back in the near future, and surely all Grizz fans are looking forward to seeing what this team is capable of at full strength. Friday night’s effort left a lot to be desired, despite questionable calls against both teams and the whole game feeling out of rhythm.
Will Sunday bring the return of the “grit and grind” that we all know and love? Coach Fizdale certainly pulled no punches during his post game interview when he called out the effort from his squad, so how do we get things back on track?
3 Keys to the Game:
Marc Gasol: feed the big fella.
He has got to be the man on both ends of the floor. The offense should run through him while Conley shakes the rust off from his absence. Watching Marc direct the defense on the floor is a thing of beauty and I expect to see a lot of that this afternoon at FedExForum.
Winning the 50-50 balls, fighting through screens, and physical play are required when you face a defensive minded, top rated team. Enter “The Grindfather” himself, Tony Allen. He has continued to provide a spark on both ends of the floor and is always willing to make that extra effort play to help his team. That kind of mentality will be the difference against this Jazz team that has had some success against the Grizz the last couple years and will look to continue their win streak on the first night of their road trip. If the Grizzlies relax for even a second, it will be exploited on both ends of the floor.
While Mike is getting back in the swing of things, Andrew Harrison has to continue to be aggressive. Despite fouling out the last two games, I have been very impressed by what I’ve seen from him. Vince Carter and Zach Randolph combined for 30 points and 17 rebounds during their last outing with the Jazz and we could sure use a big night from one or both of those guys.