My how this rivalry has fallen.
When the Memphis Grizzlies welcome the Los Angeles Clippers to FedExForum tonight for a 7:00 CT tip, both teams will look quite different than they have at the peak of their epic feud. Gone are the face kickers and push-up performers and elite point guards that made this such a heated game every time these squads faced off.
What is left behind is a team trying to get in to the playoff picture (Clippers) and a team hopefully coming to grips with their new reality- that the season is most likely lost (the Grizzlies).
So what do you look for in a game like this? Three quick keys to the game.
- The potential absence of Marc Gasol (he is listed as doubtful for the game with a hip issue) almost surely dooms the Grizzlies...but watching Memphis play without Marc would be interesting. The team plays faster without Gasol, and seeing a player like Deyonta Davis get run as a starter would be really nice considering where we are in the season.
- If Marc is indeed out, who steps up to fill the void bears watching from a leadership standpoint. Marc’s strength as a leader has been debated here, there, and everywhere. What cannot be denied is that he has been a stabilizing force for this team as the only player to play in and start every game so far this season. Will Chandler Parsons or Mario Chalmers step up, or will the Grizzlies descend further in to chaos?
- Dillon Brooks could be a player who steps up in Gasol’s absence. He has been one of the lone bright spots so far for the Grizzlies so far and has shown he is not afraid of the moment or taking advantage of opportunity. Another possible leap forward in his development as a key cog for Memphis for years to come could be coming for Dillon.
With where the Grizzlies are as the holidays approach, it makes sense to err on the side of caution with Marc, and every player. Every loss gets Memphis closer to a top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft- there is no need to risk further injury to try to save something that is too far gone.