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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz Game Preview

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After a comeback for the ages, Memphis must avoid the letdown as Utah comes to town.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (23-16, 13-7 home) vs. Utah Jazz (23-15, 11-8 road)

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: NBATV/92.9 FM ESPN MEMPHIS

Injury Report-

MEMPHIS- Deyonta Davis (Out, foot), Brandan Wright (Out, ankle)

UTAH- NONE

PROJECTED STARTERS-

MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol

UTAH- George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert


The Memphis Grizzlies pulled off the greatest comeback in the history of the franchise Sunday night against the mighty Golden State Warriors. This isn’t an argument- in fact, it is one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history.

This happened against the mighty Warriors. In Oakland, in ORACLE Arena, when at one point the Grizzlies were down 24 points at its worst. Through three-point shooting, and stifling team defense, and amazing offensive rebounding from players like Tony Allen, they clawed back and defeated Golden State for the second time this season.

That is great. But the Grizzlies have to move on.

That is life in the NBA. Whenever you have a bad loss, it must be put behind you because there is another game on the horizon. The same is true of great wins, no matter how historic. It is like a tremendous highlight reel dunk- it was a special way to get the two points, but it still only counts for two points. The Grizzlies comeback victory for the ages will be in the memories of Memphis players, coaches, front office personnel, and fans forever.

But it only counts as one win. And there is a game tonight.

It is a game against a Utah Jazz team who is in direct competition with the Grizzlies for playoff seeding in the Western Conference. A Jazz team who boasts an impressive 104.8 defensive rating, good for fourth in the NBA. A Utah club that has youth and experience, scoring and shooting, and has already beaten the Grizzlies once at home this season.

It is another big game tonight in Memphis. How can the Grizzlies keep the good times rolling?

BIGS CREATE SPACE

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies newfound focus on taking (and actually making!) three point shots helps make their offense more efficient. The biggest difference isn’t just the amount of attempts- it is who is taking them. The Grizzlies three main bigs- Marc Gasol, JaMychal Green, and Zach Randolph, are attempting almost 6.5 shots from beyond the arc, converting them about 38% of the time. This allows for wings like Tony Allen and James Ennis to slash and clean the offensive glass and for guards like Mike Conley and Andrew Harrison to attack the rim and get to the free throw line.

Against a team like the Utah Jazz, with terrific rim protecting bigs like Favors and Gobert, that is a massive development. Gasol and Randolph especially clearly can work in the post as well, but in a game like this one they must be able to make Utah honor them from outside of the lane. This creates more opportunities for Memphis offensively, which as has been discussed here before the Grizzlies need early and often.

THE PARSONS/DANIELS UTILIZATION PROJECT

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Somewhat lost in the excitement of the Golden State Warriors victory was the way Chandler Parsons was used. He played his allotted 15 minutes while on a minutes restriction all in the first half, allowing for him to get in to a rhythm and look the best he has in a Memphis uniform. He scored 10 point on 4-7 shooting in the first half, and moved well both offensively on dribble penetration to the basket as well as on defense, where he closed out on shooters relatively well.

Then, he didn’t play in the second half, and Troy Daniels (who did not play the first half) took over. 21 minutes, 4 made threes, a plus/minus of +29. The rest is history.

So as Parsons expands his minutes, and hopefully his role, the question of how minutes are split up on the wing will become more curious. James Ennis, Vince Carter, and Daniels are all wings looking for time, and Parsons getting more time will test head coach David Fizdale’s rotations.

Will Parsons play more small ball small forward? Will Andrew Harrison, who only played five minutes against the Warriors, see his role reduced as they rely on Parsons, Gasol, and others to facilitate the offense in the absence of a consistent offensive back-up point guard? It is a fluid situation, and how Fizdale adjusts minutes as Parsons gets his legs under him bears watching.

Daniels has an elite skill shooting the long ball. So does Parsons. How do you get them both on the floor more (they have only played in six games together, averaging 2.5 minutes per game) to really stress opposing defenses? Tonight may be the start of the answer to that question.

THE PREDICTION

Utah is playing on short rest after their victory last night in Minnesota, a win in which they had to mount their own comeback (a measly 11 point one) against the Timberwolves 94-92. Coming in to this game they are 5-3 on the second night of a back to back, and the Jazz are playing their fifth game in seven nights. This could very well be perceived as a “scheduled loss” for Utah to fans of both the Jazz and the Grizzlies.

But it better not be viewed that way for the actual Grizzlies.

This is another key game in a big stretch for Memphis. Utah is in town tonight, then Memphis goes to Oklahoma City and Houston this Wednesday and Friday, respectfully. Three games against three potential playoff opponents who the Grizzlies are fighting against for playoff seeding. They are not in a position to have a hangover from the miracle in Oakland- they must start fast and try to get up early against a tired Utah team so they can get the Jazz to buy in to that “scheduled loss” talk.

Chandler Parsons continues to look more like himself, Zach Randolph and Troy Daniels both score double digits off the bench, and the Grizzlies starters are able to rest the last four or five minutes of this game as tired legs doom the Jazz on this night.

Memphis 106, Utah 95