WHERE: Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona
WHEN: 8:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley (Out, Left Heel), JaMychal Green (Out, Right Knee), Wayne Selden Jr. (Out, Right Quad)
PHOENIX- Alan Williams (Out), Davon Reed (Out)
MEMPHIS- Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, Marc Gasol
PHOENIX- Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss, Tyson Chandler
It feels like déjà vu as the Grizzlies and Suns are facing off once again. It was only last Thursday when these two teams played each other last. In that one, the Suns took down the Grizzlies 97-95 on an ex-Grizzly Troy Daniels game-winning three in the final 10 seconds. Memphis will be looking for revenge Tuesday night.
However, there will be a major difference between these two games. That will be the return of Devin Booker. He has been out since the beginning of the month with a groin strain that has kept him away from the action. And of course, he is coming back against the Grizzlies. Booker will completely change the game plan that Bickerstaff had for the Suns just a few days ago.
Since their game last week, the Suns lost a matchup at home to the Timberwolves. As for the Grizzlies, the Grizzlies took down the Clippers in a solid home win against a rival that showed the best from Tyreke Evans. The game Tuesday is the first of a five-game West Coast road trip for Memphis.
These are the two things to note going into Tuesday night:
The Tyreke and Marc Show
Last game against the Suns, Tyreke had his 23 points and 9 rebounds. It is becoming a theme on this team that the Reke Freak will be the leading scorer each night. What did not happen is Gasol did not have the night he should against a suspect frontcourt.
Marc completed the game with 13 points and 11 rebounds, which is still a great night for any player to finish with. He controlled the boards especially securing 4 offensive rebounds as well. However, the points were not where they should be. Someone with Gasol’s caliber should excel against the Suns.
The proof of the Suns' questionable frontcourt is shown by JaMychal Green finally having a good night against them. Green finished with 10 rebounds and 5 offensive. Memphis can run the paint even with their small ball lineup with Parsons at the 4.
If the team has any chance in this one, Gasol and Evans are going to have to shine. The Suns rank 28th in defensive rating, so the opportunity is there. Evans distribution has been stellar this whole season. He has been passing better than any other point in his career. This, plus the scoring we know is coming, will be something to watch Tuesday night.
Can’t Let The Suns Shine Too Bright
The Suns are an interesting team. Their roster is super young and filled with names many NBA fans have never heard of. Their list of unsung heroes should be hanging in every G-League locker room. Phoenix has had multiple two-way players make it big with their system. It should be a reminder to everyone aspiring for their break to the NBA.
The team is also athletic and they love to play an up-tempo style of basketball. The Suns have the 2nd quickest pace in the league. With Booker coming back, this will only amplify as he is averaging 24.3 points per game. He will have to be the focal point in this game plan as he makes up a majority of their offense when healthy.
T.J. Warren smoked the Grizzlies for 27 points last game and that cannot happen with the addition of Devin Booker. This combination is something that would make it near impossible for the Grizzlies to pull out the win. Also, containing the revenge tour of Troy Daniels needs to be addressed from last game to hang on to this win.
The go-to stat that Coach Bickerstaff needs to hone in on is that the Suns rank 2nd worst in assists per game as a team. They play one-on-one, me first basketball. So, if the Grizzlies can switch on all pick and rolls, the Suns will not think to take advantage of the possible mismatches down low.
My prediction for the game is that it will be similar to the Thursday game. It will be a very sloppy game with two teams not really sure if they want to win or not. With a game against the Lakers on Wednesday, the Grizzlies may have some limited minutes for some of the injury question marks that will change the outlook for this game. I say Tyreke will take this game over again and continue his hot hand. Grizzlies will win this one for better or for worse.
Spread: Grizzlies -1.5. This game is a question mark that I would stay away from. However, I think the Grizz pull it out. Buy the hook down to -1 and take Memphis.
Memphis- 102, Phoenix 98
All stats provided by NBA.com