WHERE: Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California
WHEN: 9:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Chandler Parsons (Out, Knee), Marc Gasol (Questionable, foot)
SACRAMENTO- Rudy Gay (Out, Achillies), Malachi Richardson (Out, Hamstring)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Vince Carter, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
SACRAMENTO- Darren Collison, Buddy Hield, Aaron Affalo, Willy Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos
The Grizzlies are right back at it coming off a Sunday night loss to the Golden State Warriors. After the game, they had to fly straight to Sacramento for the second game of a tough road back-to-back. Tonight, the Grizz take on the Sacramento Kings trying to finish out this road trip in a winning fashion. They have lost all three in this road trip, so the team is trying to salvage a win tonight to feel somewhat confident coming back home.
With 9 games left in the regular season, we may see the younger guys getting a greater minute share as the Grizzlies have a solid grasp on the playoffs. Coach Fizdale showed us last night that he will rest some guys if needed, as Marc Gasol took the night off against the Warriors with a sore foot (not that foot, relax).
Coming into this game, the Kings are also playing the second of a back-to-back, as they shocked the Clippers last night in Los Angeles. They ended the game on a remarkable 22-3 run to win on a Willy Cauley-Stein tip in with only a second left on the clock. Spirits will be high coming into tonight, but Memphis has something to prove not wanting to continue this losing streak.
Here are a few things to take note of before tonight’s big game.
Which Kings Team Will We See?
The Sacramento Kings are one of the most peculiar teams in the NBA. Over the past decade, they have been trying to find an identity while having one of the worst front offices in the league. In particular, this season they notably traded their biggest and best player, DeMarcus Cousins, for Buddy Hield and picks. While we do not know how good the trade will be for the Kings, the team just goes back to where they were before, a rebuilding team of what-ifs. So, in preparation for tonight’s game, we have to analyze this Boogie-less Kings team post All-Star Break.
Sacramento, since the All-Star Break, is tied for the third worst record with the Knicks at 4-12. It was expected losing the team’s best player. However, this has given unexpected minutes to some of their young players to get thrown into game action for development.
Two players that are making the most of this opportunity are Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere. These are two young athletic big men who were Kentucky alums. Both have shown signs of being the cornerstones to a new look Sacramento front court.
However, all that talk is for the future. This season the team is young and inexperienced. The Kings give up many points a game (3rd worst defensive rating since the ASB) and do not have the scorers to keep up.
Knocking The Grizzlies Losing Streak
With all that being said about the Kings, the Grizzlies will have the opportunity to knock the slide and pull out a win on the road. They will have the open looks; it is just all about following through and making them.
With Gasol hopefully back after his night off, the Grizzlies should be able to pound inside and control the paint. The Kings are ranked third worst in rebounds a game which will bode very well for a Grizzlies team that will get good shots off.
Last night, Memphis played well considering they were lacking Gasol. Their biggest flaw was defending the three-point shot which will be imperative tonight. The Kings have solid guard play which starts with the three point shooting of Collison and Heild. Buddy Heild, while I don’t know if he can end up being Steph Curry, is shooting 50% from the field and 44.9% from three since joining the Kings. That is what the Grizzlies need to contain to not worry about this game.
When all is said and done, I feel like this is still a very winnable for the Grizzlies. The Kings have not been good since losing Boogie and just do not have the talent to match up against the teams around the NBA. The Grizzlies, potentially at full strength, should be able to come out on top even in the last game of a long, exhausting road trip.
However, we have seen this analysis before. A game the Grizzlies should win. It is against a sub .500, what could go wrong? It is going to be imperative that the Grizzlies do not look down on the Kings. It happened in Brooklyn and it happened in New Orleans. To make a strong, real playoff push, this team must get mentally right. It can start with a dominate team win tonight.
Spread: Grizzlies -5.5 I’m taking the Grizz in this one. Vegas is sleeping on the Grizzlies after a big Kings win and the end of the Grizzlies long road trip. Interesting Fact of the Day: The Grizzlies are 23-11 against the spread in their last 34 coming off 0 days rest. I like that stat a lot. Go ahead and pound the Grizz.
Grizzlies- 108, Kings- 99