WHERE: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
WHEN: 7:00 CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Memphis - Chandler Parsons (Out, Knee)
New Orleans - Omer Asik (Out, Illness), Quincy Pondexter (Out, Knee)
Grizzlies - Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Vince Carter, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
Pelicans - Tim Frazier, Jrue Holiday, Solomon Hill, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins
Confidence is through the roof for the Grizzlies coming into tonight’s game against the Pelicans. The Grizzlies will enter the Smoothie King Center riding a 4-game winning streak after defeating the San Antonio Spurs 104-96 on Saturday. The Pelicans are only 6-7 since their blockbuster trade for DeMarcus Cousins over All-Star Weekend, but come into tonight’s game winning two in a row with blowout wins over the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Grizzlies are the better team, but defeating the Pelicans will be no easy task, with the first two games of the season series being OT wins for the Grizz and the third being a Grizz loss. Here are a few key factors to look at that will decide tonight’s game.
Own the Boards
The winner of tonight’s contest could come down to who controls the rebound battle. Since bringing over DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans have been a top-5 rebounding team, pulling down 45 rebounds a game. 36 of those boards are defensive rebounds, resulting in the Pels only allowing opponents a shade over 10 second chance points a game. The Grizzlies haven’t rebounded the ball well since the break (only 41 a game) but they do score just over 15 second chance points a game, which is good for 2nd in the NBA since the break. If the Grizzlies want to win tonight, they’ll need to crash the offensive glass and get some easy second chance buckets.
The Grizzlies will also need to keep up the defensive effort that has sparked this 4-game win streak. The Pelicans have been a high scoring team ever since Cousins got familiar with his new squad, averaging nearly 118 points in their last 5 games. If the Grizzlies want to slow the Pels’ offense down, they’ll need to play solid team defense. This starts with Marc and JaMychal holding their own down low. If they can contain both Cousins and Anthony Davis, the Grizz should be able to win comfortably. However if either player gets going and forces double-teams, it’ll give the Pelicans open 3-point shots for guys like Jrue Holiday and Jordan Crawford.
Role Players Step Up
The Pelicans match up relatively well against the Grizzlies. Anthony Davis is a great defender and will make Marc work for every point. Jrue Holiday will also cause Conley some issues with his height and length. It is games like tonight’s when players like Z-Bo, Vince, and JaMychal need to step up. Conley and Gasol can’t do it all against a tough team like the Pelicans. If our role players can get going offensively, it will help open things up for the Grizzlies offense that is often so reliant on the Conley/Gasol duo.
The Pelicans may only be an average team, but when you have two All-Stars you have a chance to win any game. The Grizzlies will need to contain the dynamic duo down low for the Pelicans, without allowing someone like Solomon Hill or Jordan Crawford to go off.
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will get their fair share of points, but the Grizzlies defense will do enough to contain the rest of the team. With visits to the Spurs and Warriors later this week, these are the type of games the Grizzlies need to win. It won’t be an easy game, but look for the Grizzlies to wear down the Davis/Cousins duo and build up a sizable lead in the second half.
Grizzlies 115, Pelicans 100