WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Chandler Parsons (Out, Knee), Marc Gasol (Questionable, foot)
INDIANA- Al Jefferson (Out, Ankle), Glenn Robinson III (Questionable, Calf), Rodney Stuckey (Questionable, Knee)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Vince Carter, JaMychal Green, Zach Randolph
INDIANA- Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Paul George, Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner
The Memphis Grizzlies host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night nursing their second 4-game losing streak in a month, with both teams hungry to climb up the standings before the playoffs begin.
Both Indiana and Memphis are likely to be visiting teams in the playoffs, without a clear path to a top-4 seed, but the Pacers are tied for the 5th seed while the Grizzlies are quickly losing ground on the rest of the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies might seem stuck in the 7 seed, and a 2nd consecutive Spurs playoff series, but the season isn’t over. All losing streaks are equal in terms of standings impact, but they’re not all built the same. The Grizzlies’ last 4 games were a lot easier to stomach than than the previous losing streak that included a 13-point loss to the Nets.
This is going to sound like a hot take, but losing isn’t good. But the Grizzlies didn’t look as lifeless and lost during this stretch than the last. The effort has been there, and the games were a lot closer. Memphis has shown a propensity to bounce back strong after bad streaks, their inconsistency is their consistency, and here’s how the Grizzlies can do just that to turn the tide.
Helping Mike Conley
Mike Conley is having a career year this season. He’s taken on a huge scoring responsibility and has fully lived up to it. But when Marc Gasol is out of the lineup, it makes the job that much more difficult for Mike.
The Kings game on Monday night was a good example. The entire weight of the offense was on Conley’s shoulders, and it all fell apart when no one else stepped up.
Zach Randolph posted 17 points, but that was off of a 5-of-18 shooting night. Conley himself was 8-of-23. The only player who shot above 50% from the night was Brandan Wright, whose makes were all inside the paint.
The Grizzlies stayed in the game with free throws and offensive rebounds, but that just helps our margin of error. The offense would help their cause a lot better by hitting their first shots. Playing against the Pacers gives another opportunity for role players to step up.
Save for Paul George, the Pacers don’t have that many good defenders on the perimeter, especially when they’re so thin with injuries. This would be a great game for Vince Carter or Troy Daniels to step up, considering the Pacers allow the 6th most 3-point makes per game in the league.
The Grizzlies are at their most frustrating when their 2nd half doesn’t compare to a 1st half in which they set the tone with encouraging play.
In this four-game losing streak, they’ve been outscored in the first half 192-186, which is not good, but still a marginal difference. The 2nd half the margin grows worse, 197-170. Memphis started well against the Spurs and Warriors, the two top teams in the West, which was encouraging until their opponents blew it open against the Grizz in the 2nd halves of those games.
The struggles start with offense. It’s a make-or-miss league and the Grizzlies have definitely been doing a lot of missing. During this losing streak, the Grizzlies are shooting .339 from the field in the 4th quarter. Some people want Chandler Parsons run out of town for shooting .338 on the season - the Grizzlies as a team shouldn’t get a free pass for shooting just as poorly in the most important part of the game.
If the Grizzlies can shoot more consistently and as well as they do in the 1st half, they can stop the bleeding. But changing that has got to be a top priority for Memphis to do so.
This game depends a lot on Marc Gasol. If he doesn’t play, the Grizzlies will definitely miss him. If he does play, there’s still a question whether he and his foot will be 100%. Marc hasn’t been playing up to his season standard lately, so if he’s at a disadvantage, that might spell trouble for the Grizzlies who will need all the help they can get.
The Pacers are battling injuries of their own and they also have a terrible road record, but the injuries aren’t as impactful as the Grizzlies not having Gasol.
I think the Pacers will make it another close loss for the Grizzlies. Until Conley and Gasol can both produce again while together on the court, I’m not confident in the Grizzlies’ chances of winning, even if they play solidly.
Pacers 102 Grizzlies 96