WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Atlanta- Dewayne Dedmon (Out, Leg), Mike Muscala (Out, Ankle)
Memphis- Mike Conley (Out, Left Achilles), Wayne Selden Jr. (Out, Right Quad), Brandan Wright (Out, Right Groin), Tyreke Evans (Questionable, Right Hip), Chandler Parsons (Probable, Lower Back)
Atlanta- Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, Ersan Ilyasova, Miles Plumlee
Memphis- Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
If you love ugly basketball, you’re sure to love this matchup tonight! The Grizzlies, who have lost 16 of 17, go up against an Atlanta Hawks team that has been even worse than the Grizzlies so far this season. The Hawks will be coming in town to play the second night of a back-to-back, giving the Grizzlies their best chance at a win in recent memory.
The Hawks have had their own drama this season as well, as Coach Budenholzer benched point guard Dennis Schroder in the 4th quarter a few games ago. The Hawks really don’t have much talent outside of Schroder and Bazemore, but the Grizzlies have allowed Taurean Prince to go off on them before, so anything is possible.
It’s also Star Wars night for the Grizzlies and they are playing The Force Awakens after the game, so even if the game sucks you can stay and watch a free movie. #smallvictories
Here’s a few things the Grizz need to do to get back on track with a win.
Run, Grizzlies, Run
The Grizzlies, as highlighted by Mark King, play their best when they play defense and get out in transition. As I mentioned earlier, the Hawks will be playing their second night of a back-to-back. Although the flight from Atlanta to Memphis isn’t long, the Hawks should be tired following their matchup against the Pistons and the Grizzlies should take full advantage. Players like James Ennis III & Jarell Martin play their best in transition so it would benefit the Grizzlies to run as often as they can as it will wear the Hawks down. Getting out in transition will also give the Grizzlies some (hopefully) easy baskets to try and get themselves in a rhythm offensively.
Assuming that at some point the Grizzlies defense will disappear, likely in the 3rd quarter, it will be more difficult for them to get out in transition. If that is the case, they need to play big as the Hawks aren’t great on the interior. They’ll have John Collins back from injury, but outside of him Marc and JaMychal should be able to feast on the trio of Ilyasova, Plumlee and Tyler Cavanaugh. The Grizzlies should also be able to create some mismatches and have their guards attack the Hawks bigs. If Tyreke Evans is healthy enough to play, him and Gasol should be able to get whatever they want against the Hawks interior defense.
Guard the 3-Point Line
The Hawks aren’t great at much, but they are a good 3-point shooting team. They shoot 38% from beyond the arc, making 11 3’s a game. Marco Belinelli and Ilyasova are the obvious 3 point specialist, but DeAndre’ Bembry, Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince can hurt you if you leave them open. The Grizzlies guards and wings will need to make sure to stay glued to their guys and not crash the paint when Schroder drives through the line. The Grizzlies need to trust each other tonight and only back off their man to help if it’s necessary. If the Grizzlies give up a ton of open 3’s to the Hawks, then this losing streak could reach an even lower low.
This game is guaranteed to be ugly. Neither team is great offensively and are struggling in the early portion of the season. The main difference in these two teams is the fact that the Grizzlies have at least shown they can be competitive in games and give you glimmers of hope. The Grizzlies are at least a theoretically decent team who is playing bad. The Hawks are a bad team playing bad.
That gives the edge to the Grizzlies, who could really use this game as a means of gaining confidence and momentum going into a tough stretch of games. It won’t be easy, but even at their worst the Grizzliesshould be better than this Hawks team.
Grizzlies 102, Hawks 95