WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (18-12, 7-5 Away) vs. Detroit Pistons (14-16, 8-5 Home)
WHEN: 6:30 PM CT
WHERE: The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS - Chandler Parsons (Questionable, Knee- HOPES TO PLAY), Deyonta Davis (Out, Foot), Brandan Wright (Out, Ankle)
DETROIT - Reggie Bullock (Out, Knee)
MEMPHIS - Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Troy Williams, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
DETROIT - Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris, Andre Drummond
To go from 17 points up to an overtime loss is about as bad as it gets for any team.
That is where Memphis finds itself at the moment, less than a day removed from a disappointing collapse against the Boston Celtics. It even led Memphis head coach David Fizdale to openly criticize the leadership of his team, likely a shot aimed at Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Fizdale has shown he’s not afraid to ruffle the feathers of those on his roster, regardless of All-NBA stature, but time will tell whether or not the right buttons have been pushed.
The best medicine after a horrible loss like last night? Another opportunity to get on the winning path. Memphis will get that shot tonight in Michigan as they take on another struggling-at-the-moment squad, the Detroit Pistons. Detroit has lost three in a row, and four of their last five, just like the Grizzlies, with their latest defeat coming at the hands of the Chicago Bulls 113-82. In fact, all four of Detroit’s losses over that five-game stretch have come by double digits - 18, 14, 15, and 31 point deficits.
So tonight is a match-up of struggling squads. How can the Grizzlies take advantage of that and get right?
- BE ABLE TO ADAPT - This will be a game of change. On the Memphis side, it’s the hopeful return of Chandler Parsons to the Grizzlies lineup. He will surely be on a minutes restriction, but working him into the rotation and making sure his shooting acumen shines through as quickly as possible must be a priority for a Memphis offense that desperately needs him. Detroit, meanwhile, has promised some sort of change in their lineup. Head coach Stan Van Gundy stated leading up to this game that there will be at least one change in his starting lineup, perhaps more.
Could Jon Leuer replace the struggling Marcus Morris? Or could Ish Smith perhaps make the Pistons lineup smaller and more difficult to defend? Whatever Detroit throws at Memphis, it will be up to Fizdale and his staff to have adjustments ready.
- GET MOVING - Far too often as of late the Memphis Grizzlies offense has become stagnant. An over-reliance on the Conley-Gasol pick and roll has led to an awful lot of standing and watching on the offensive side of the ball for the Memphis Grizzlies. That becomes quite easy to game plan for, especially if the opposing team has a stud defender to cover Conley (like Boston had in Avery Bradley) it can really limit the Grizzlies.
There has to be an emphasis on creating motion on the offensive end. Gasol and Conley are great, but they most certainly cannot do it alone. Troy Daniels, Zach Randolph, Vince Carter...assistance is needed. And it has to be manufactured through effort on offense, not just defense and creating turnovers.
THE PREDICTION -
As of this writing Detroit is a 7-point favorite at home. That feels entirely too high, especially for a Pistons team struggling even more than Memphis is currently. While I do not see a blowout win for the sputtering Grizzlies, I do think that Marc Gasol and company will take to the words of their head coach and attack throughout the course of this game. The Grizzlies have proven over the course of this season that they can win the second game of a back to back (7-0 in such games so far this campaign) and tonight will not be any different.
Marc Gasol shines, Vince Carter and Zach Randolph step up, and Memphis gets a needed victory after a recent rough stretch.
Memphis 101, Detroit 96