WHEN: 6:00 PM CT
WHERE: Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley (Out, heel), Wayne Selden Jr. (Questionable, quad), JaMychal Green (Questionable, knee), Brandan Wright (Probable, quad)
SACRAMENTO- De’Aaron Fox (Out, Quad), Harry Giles (Out, Knee)
MEMPHIS- Andrew Harrison, Tyreke Evans, Dillon Brooks, Jarell Martin, Marc Gasol
SACRAMENTO- Frank Mason, George Hill, Garrett Temple, Skal Labissiere, Zach Randolph
Memphis is hoping they still have bullets in the clip.
After one of their best shooting and scoring nights of the season in last night’s loss, Memphis looks to sustain that success and turn it into a win against the Sacramento Kings on New Year’s Eve.
On the second night of a back-to-back, the Grizzlies will face off against the Sacramento Kings, who are lead by former Memphis head coach David Joerger and of course, former players Vince Carter and Zach Randolph.
The Grizzlies have announced plans to retire Z-Bo’s number, but that will have to wait for when these two teams meet in Memphis (either January 19th or April 8th) if they don’t wait until he actually retires. This is the first time the Grizzlies and Kings have met this season.
For the meeting in Sacramento tonight, here are three things to watch for as the game unfolds on the last night of 2017.
Fall Back to Earth
The Grizzlies’ offense against Golden State was really hitting a stride with the high pace. Of course, knocking down all of your shots will help your stride. Memphis was almost too hot yesterday. All year they have had good shooting halves or quarters, only to compensate with abysmal shooting the next period. Yet, Memphis didn’t really experience any regression to the mean during the game last night.
This team averaged 9.3/27.1 3-point field goals per game on the season heading into Saturday’s tilt in which they shot 15-21 from downtown. Maybe that was the game the Grizzlies turned it around, but it was more likely an aberration. Whether or not they sink below their shooting averages to “compensate” for such a great game the night before will be the most important factor in this game.
The Real Kobi
Mario Chalmers and Andrew Harrison have been prying defeat from the jaws of victory in regards to backup PG to Mike Conley. Without Conley around, they had even more opportunities to handle the ball and show their worth, but both have been disappointing.
Enter Kobi Simmons, an athletic breath of fresh air who looks like the best true (healthy) PG on the roster. Against Golden State he poured in 17 off the bench on 7-10 shooting. Again, I’d like to reiterate that Memphis has a point guard who can shoot above 40% on a given night from the field.
Kobi can make what has become a disappointing bench exciting again. Memphis has a lot of youth, but very little athleticism to boot. Kobi has it in spades and he is a gamer. His development in the first few games he plays (like against Sacramento tonight) will be intriguing for the rest of the season and beyond.
The Kings have become the island of outcast Grizzlies, the team who was already the destination for misfits and outcasts.
With Sacramento sporting Head Coach Dave Joerger, Vince Carter, and Zach Randolph, expect them to be considerably motivated to walk out with a win. All three probably feel they were kicked out of Memphis and all three surely want to show up the Grizzlies’ front-office.
Motivation is not always obvious, especially for one observing the team from a distance, rather than an actual member of the team knowing how motivated they are truly. Yet, the Grizzlies have not shown urgency or motivation for about two straight months now. Facing a young and hungry team can spell trouble for a struggling team on a back-to-back.
Will Vince Carter treat Deyonta Davis like Frederic Weis? Probably not. Will Z-Bo score 20-10 as is mandated by the U.S. Constitution? Probably. But either way, they will come to play against the team that considered them too old to produce. And now, the Grizzlies are last in the Western Conference, trying to make up ground on the Sacramento Kings.
Life came at the Grizzlies mighty fast in the 2017.