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Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans Opening Night Game Preview

We back.

NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (0-0 overall, 0-0 home) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (0-0, 0-0 away)

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis. From FOX Sports Southeast’s press release on the game...

Coverage on FOX Sports Southeast will begin at 6:00 p.m. CT with an extended Grizzlies LIVE pregame show. The show will include

· An interview with former Memphis guard Tony Allen about the anticipation of having his jersey retired by the Grizzlies.

· A roundtable discussion with Knight and FOX Sports colleagues Dell Curry, Charlotte Hornets analyst, and Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks analyst. The trio of NBA veterans will discuss current storylines and preview the upcoming 2017-18 season.

· An interview with Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale and a behind-the-scenes look at team practice with Fizdale mic’d up.

· A bus tour of Memphis with the newest members of the Grizzlies, including rookie Dillon Brooks and veteran Mario Chalmers.

Injury Report-

MEMPHIS- Wayne Selden Jr. (right quad) and Ben McLemore (right foot) are OUT. Tyreke Evans (right ankle) is QUESTIONABLE.

NEW ORLEANS- Anthony Davis (illness) is PROBABLE. Alexis Ajinca (right knee), Omer Asik (illness), Solomon Hill (left hamstring), Frank Jackson (right foot), and Rajon Rondo (core muscle) are all OUT.

PROBABLE STARTERS-

MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Andrew Harrison, James Ennis III, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol

NEW ORLEANS- Jrue Holiday, E’twaun Moore, Dante Cunningham, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins

PREVIEW PODCAST FROM 3 AND D-


We have finally arrived.

After the craziest offseason maybe ever for both the Memphis Grizzlies and the NBA overall, and after a dramatic opening night for the Association, a majority of the NBA’s squads tip off their regular seasons tonight. The Grizzlies look primed and ready to get things going after their dominant performance to close out the preseason this past Friday night against their opponent tonight, the New Orleans Pelicans. 142 points were scored by a Memphis team who shot better than they had at any other point in the preseason, and the pace and space hopes of head coach David Fizdale were realized, if only for one evening.

Tonight, the games start to count. And New Orleans, who will have former Grizzly Tony Allen for this contest after having him sit out last week’s meeting, will surely play better defense this time around. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the two best players for the Pelicans, won’t play just 14 and 19 minutes respectively. The results from five days ago mean little when it comes to tonight.

Here are your keys to tonight’s game.

WHO WILL SCORE BESIDES MARC AND MIKE?

NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The starting unit for Memphis has some upside - length, athleticism, ball-handling with Harrison, the ability to switch at times depending on matchups, etc. But the question that remains is who in the world is going to be the third option for the Grizzlies when it comes to scoring the basketball with the starters? Harrison isn’t known for his scoring ability, and neither is Ennis or Green. Theoretically JaMychal could step up and be that guy, but we’ve rarely (if ever) seen him in that role.

With change comes opportunity. Not just tonight but the first 10 games or so will be interesting as that next option behind the “Big Two” emerges.

CAN THE BENCH BUILD A LEAD?

NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming Tyreke Evans plays tonight, the Grizzlies bench could possibly include Mario Chalmers, Evans, Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, and Brandan Wright. That crew has a healthy mix of athleticism, shooting, shot creation, and facilitation that should give opponents potential fits. While four of those players are on the “calculated risk” list I discussed in my season preview yesterday, if they’re all healthy and able to contribute, they could be a real strength for Memphis this season. This especially holds true when Ben McLemore and Wayne Selden return, whether they become starters and move Harrison to the bench or replace Brooks and/or Harrison in the rotation as reserves.

The Pelicans injury report is quite lengthy considering it’s the beginning of the season. While Memphis isn’t at 100% either, they seem to have more pieces off the bench to help the starters not just sustain a lead, but build upon it. This would allow for Marc and Mike to perhaps get a bit more of a breather, which over the course of a season makes a massive difference.

The Prediction

The Memphis Grizzlies are 2-8 the past 10 seasons on opening night, with those 2 victories coming over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Regardless of who the coach has been, or who’s wearing the uniform playing the game, this first contest just hasn’t been friendly to the Grizzlies over the past decade or so. Depending on how the game starts, it may have that look again if Conley and/or Gasol are cold shooting early on.

But those injuries, especially to Hill and Rondo for the Pelicans, will catch up to them, and the reserves for the Grizzlies will be able to support the starters. Look for Conley and Gasol to perk up playing alongside Chalmers, Evans, and others from that 2nd unit, and get things clicking in the second quarter to build a lead as the game goes on.

The Pelicans will be improved and create issues for Memphis as the season goes on. But tonight will belong to the Grizzlies.

Memphis 108, New Orleans 101