WHEN: 8 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
ATLANTA- Mike Dunleavy (Out, ankle)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Andrew Harrison, Chandler Parsons, Brandan Wright, Marc Gasol
ATLANTA HAWKS: Dennis Schroder, Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard
The Memphis Grizzlies are in a rut.
They have lost 4 in a row, including an embarrassing loss to the Nets at home, and have been 3-7 in their last 10 games. In their last game, they lost by 16 points to the rival Clippers in a game where they were completely out-performed in every facet.
Before the All-Star break, it looked as if the Grizzlies were in a good position to take the 4th seed and home-court advantage from the Utah Jazz. The Grizzlies were only back 1.5 games and any winning stretch of basketball would have had the Grizzlies feeling comfortable in the standings.
Today, the Grizzlies are 5 games back from the 4th seed and currently sit at 7th in the conference, tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 6th seed. If the standings hold into the playoffs, the Grizzlies would be playing the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Based off of the past week of Memphis’ performances, that series might somehow end in three games.
Memphis comes into Saturday looking to improve in the standings with a win against the Atlanta Hawks. This is their first meeting of the season and a good performance can give the Grizzlies some real confidence after a disheartening recent stretch.
Every consecutive loss puts more pressure on the next game, so here’s how the Grizzlies can ease that pressure on Saturday night.
Marc Gasol being Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol is the best player for the Grizzlies. As far as Big Spain goes, this team goes, and it shows in his and the team’s performance the last 10 games.
Gasol has been shooting .464/.386/.835 with 20.4 PPG on the season as a whole. The last 10 games that split has dropped to .414/.300/.800 while averaging 18.2 PPG. The Grizzlies are a team that constantly lack consistent offense, so the bedrocks of this team need to step up if the offense is going to be productive enough to pull out a victory.
If Dwight Howard is guarding Gasol on the perimeter, that could be a good sign for the Grizzlies. Howard is still quite a viable rim protector, but guarding the Gasol beyond the arc is a match-up the Grizzlies should want, especially with Gasol becoming more empowered as a three-point shooter this year.
Gasol is going to need to set the tone for the Grizzlies to snap this streak. He’s the best player and needs to play like it again.
Defense, Defense, Defense
The biggest problem during this stretch has been the defense for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Heading into the All-Star break, the Grizzlies had the 4th best defensive efficiency in the league. “Grit N Grind” may be going out of style, but good defense never does. The Grizzlies have been a great on the defensive end this season. Until the recent valley of the season, that is.
The last 10 games have been flat-out awful defensively for the Grizz. They are second-to-last in defensive efficiency, allowing 113.6 per 100 possessions. The only team with a worse efficiency in that span is the Cleveland Cavaliers, so the bright side may be that means the Grizzlies are slightly better than the NBA Champions.
This is something the Grizzlies desperately need to fix. They’ve allowed 110+ points in 4 of the past 5 games and that cannot continue heading into the playoffs.
The Hawks have the 5th worst offensive efficiency in the league for the season, and the 3rd worst over the past 10 games. This is a prime opportunity for the Grizzlies to get their defense on track.
The losing streak won’t last forever, right? Here’s hoping that good thoughts end losing streaks.
Grizzlies 101 Hawks 94