WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (20-13, 8-6 away) vs. Boston Celtics (18-13, 6-6 home)
WHEN: 6:30 PM CT
WHERE: TD Garden, Boston
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Memphis: Deyonta Davis (Out, Foot), Brandan Wright (Out, Ankle)
Memphis: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
Boston: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Al Horford
Memphis visits Boston tonight, playing on the road for the second consecutive night after losing to the Orlando Magic. The Grizzlies have had huge success this season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back. So far they have won all eight games played without a day of rest.
Both teams met in Memphis a week ago and the Celtics escaped with the win in the overtime. The Boston point guard Isaiah Thomas had 44 points in the game after scoring only 8 in the first half.
Boston has won five of the last six games, including the one on Christmas Day in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. The Celtics are again showing the consistency that impressed everybody last year, with good defense and even better ball movement on offense.
How can Memphis win their ninth second game of a back to back so far this season?
Start with defense
Memphis' defensive performance left a lot to be desired in Orlando. The best defensive team in the league allowed the Magic to explode for 68 points in the first half. The Grizzlies success traditionally starts with defense and they have given up over a hundred points in each of the last two games.
The Boston offense is known for being very dynamic. The Grizzlies will have to pay attention to pick and roll actions, which is something the Celtics constantly try to execute. Defensive rotations will be paramount to a Memphis win.
Anyone taking the day off?
David Fizdale is gradually getting back all his players after an injury plague hit the roster early in the season. Only the back-up centers Brandan Wright and Deyonta Davis are unavailable.
Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and James Ennis are all recovered but their minutes are still limited. The three of them played last night in Orlando and it would not be surprising to see someone sit out in Boston.
Parsons, who has started the last three games, did not play in the entire second half last night. At this stage no one is entirely sure about his actual condition, but he looks extremely cautious, slow and lacks aggression on offense. Right now James Ennis seems to be a more important player for Memphis at the small forward position.
The Grizzlies' coach showed his dissapointment with the team's effort during the game against Orlando and did not mention anything related to rest up any of his players. None of them did actually log over 30 minutes last night.
I'm glad we play right away after getting our butts kicked," Fizdale said. "We don't deserve a day off after that. It's time to get right back to work. If you're not up for that game, you're in the wrong business."
Memphis should take advantage of a smaller Boston team and attack the paint on a regular basis. Marc Gasol was a force in the previous meeting, until he went scoreless in the fourth quarter and the overtime.
If the Celtics choose to crowd the paint, the Grizzlies can spread the floor and try from the perimeter. In the last four games, with Conley, Parsons and Ennis back, they average 42.7 per cent from downtown. As a matter of a fact, the team has made over 10 triples during that stretch. When the long range shots are falling and the defensive plan works out, Memphis is a very tough team to beat.
The @memgrizz have made 10+ three-point field goals in four consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) December 27, 2016
Keep your eye on Thomas
The All-Star Boston point guard Isaiah Thomas averages 27 points a game and was the catalyst for the Celtics’ comeback win in Memphis. Both Conley and Harrison will have to do a better job against him. Mike Conley was not at 100 percent to be able to defend consistently when Memphis host Boston a week ago but his condition has improved since then.