WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Brandon Wright (Out, personal)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
PHOENIX- Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Marquese Chriss, Alex Len
Red Sox-Yankees, North Carolina-Duke, Michigan-Ohio State, and now we have Memphis-Phoenix.
The historic hatred between these teams always adds an element to see if the teams will break out in any extracurricular activity.
No, but in all seriousness, it will be very interesting to see if any bad blood has stuck with either of these teams from last time they played just 20 days ago. The Grind House will definitely give a warm welcome to Devin Booker and whoever else wants to get scrappy on Tuesday night.
As for the game itself, the Grizzlies are going for the season sweep against the Suns. In the first matchup, which was in Phoenix, the Grizzlies won 115-96, In the second, in Memphis, the Grizzlies also won 110-91. Two comfortable 19 point wins.
This time, Phoenix is coming off trading away P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline, and the team is 0-2 after the All-Star Break. They have a young, athletic core, but sitting with the second-to-worst record, the team does not have much to play for.
These are the two things to note going into Tuesday night:
Knocking This Sluggish Start
Since the All-Star Break and even the one game before, Memphis has looked lethargic on the offensive side of the ball. The Grizzlies found a way to win on Sunday, but the team still did not look to be in their groove giving up 48 points in the paint to the Nuggets, 10 more than average. They need to get back home and play in front of the Grizz faithful to find their way.
Phoenix could be the perfect team to give them a chance to get things going again. According to NBA.com, the Suns have the fourth worst defensive rating in the league. If their abysmal defense continues, this will give players the open looks they need to pick the offense up.
This was quite the case in the first meeting between the two teams. Mike Conley went off for a career-high 38 points, shooting 67% from the field. In the second matchup, the Grizzlies shot 48.6% as a team and an incredible 58.3% from three.
Both these statistics say the Grizzlies will get the open shots. The question will be if they can continue their 48.7% field goal shooting (57.7% from three) against the Suns this season. This may be a crucial turning point getting the team going for the playoff seed push.
Can’t Let The Suns Shine Too Bright
While saying all that, this Phoenix Suns team could be a pesky one if they try a bit harder after the way things concluded last game. As Chuck Rhoades said in Showtime’s Billions, “The only enemy more dangerous than a man with unlimited resources is one with nothing to lose…” The Suns are that enemy with nothing to lose.
As mentioned before, the team is young and athletic who love to play an up-tempo style of basketball. They have the 3rd quickest pace and are 4th in offensive rebounds per game. Luckily the Grizzlies have no problem in the paint, so the key will be to slow down this team.
Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker are their stars. Booker is averaging 21 points against the Grizz this season. The Grizzlies defended their leading point scorer, Bledsoe, well in the previous two games. He only scored 14 and 16 in the two contests. The main goal is to keep these two in check.
The go-to stat that Coach Fizdale 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 mismatch down low.
My prediction for the game is that it will be similar to the other two head-to-heads against Phoenix. The Grizzlies are not the team you can leave open and let shoot. The Suns do not have the defensive to stop the Grizzlies from open shots, so they will at least get the looks. If they can control the pace and not have the game turn in to a track meet, Memphis should be able to sweep Phoenix for the season.
Spread: Grizzlies -10. That is a high spread, but I would still pound the Grizzlies. They will find their true form in this one.
Over/Under: 211. I would take the under on this one because of the last game’s result in Memphis, but I could see Phoenix trying to speed the game up.
Memphis 114, Phoenix 95