WHERE: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS - Brandan Wright (personal)
BROOKLYN – Joe Harris (concussion, shoulder)
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
BROOKLYN: Jeremy Lin, Randy Foye, Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brook Lopez
The Brooklyn Nets are not very good. Actually, they’re the worst in the league. Linsanity has not been so Linsane in Brooklyn this season, and there aren’t many positives for the team to look to. In the last game in which the Grizzlies and Nets met (February 13th), the Grizzlies won fairly easily, 112-103. The Grizz shot the ball well, 50% overall and 40% from three point land. This game should be a good way for Memphis to get back on track.
The Nets have had two separate losing streaks of over ten games, including one of fifteen games. The team has a few pieces that could make them competitive, but they just don’t play defense. Brook Lopez is a nice anchor down low, but he doesn’t have much help. The Nets give up a league high 114.4 points per game. They actually score the ball effectively, 105.4 points a game. Compare that to the Grizzlies, who only average 101.3 points per game.
This game will be a test of each team’s defense, which usually favors the Grizzlies. Memphis is scoring the ball well post All-Star break. They have scored 100 points in 3 of 5 games (and 98 in one game). The least amount of points in a game since the break for Brooklyn is 95, so scoring hasn’t been an issue for them either. Saturday night the Nets played the Portland Trail Blazers, and that game sums up their season: they scored 116 points, but gave up 130.
Here are a few keys to the game on Monday night:
JaMychal Green’s Offense
The Grizzlies need Green to play well. When he does, Memphis wins. He’s replaced Zach Randolph in the starting lineup to create a faster, more spread out type of offense. He can also guard small forwards up to centers, so he’s a solid player for this team.
But when he’s offensive minded, the team thrives around him. Saturday night he had 20 points on 9-11 aginst the Mavericks (I gave him an A+ for that game), and his shots came mostly around the rim, including some garbage points after cleaning up rebounds. The Grizz don’t need him to take over the game, or even make tough shots, but they do need him to look to score when there are opportunities. The passive JaMychal Green needs to take a seat and stay there.
Brooklyn is fourth in the league in three point attempts - they shoot 32 a game - but they make only 10 on average. They shoot a ton of threes as their bail out offensive method. The Nets don’t have a true play-maker (maybe Jeremy Lin could scratch that surface), so they have to settle for threes, often in late shot clock situations. In the last matchup versus Memphis, they shot 37 threes, ending the game 12-37 from deep. For the Grizzlies to win, forcing them to shoot contested jump shots is essential. The Nets are willing to settle for long range shots, and that can work to the Grizzlies’ advantage.
The Grizz also need to shoot the ball well. When they shoot efficiently from deep it takes pressure off the bigs down low. The shooters are available on the roster, but their success depends on how many minutes they each get. Look for Troy Daniels to get additional playing time, along with James Ennis III coming off the bench. Vince Carter will get his normal minutes and shoot his four 3-pointers, but this game will be won in easier fashion if the threes fall on Monday night.
Managing the Tempo
As I mentioned earlier, the Nets will look to score. They play with a fast pace and they shoot a lot of shots. They have five players that average double figure points, including Brook Lopez who averages 20.6 points per game. It’s important for the Grizzlies to control the tempo, which they often do.
The balance the Grizz have looked to find all season is playing with pace, but sticking to their roots with the bigs down low. Falling into a shooting contest with Brooklyn will favor the Nets, but that doesn’t mean the Grizzlies can’t play up-tempo. They just have to play under control. Defense comes first for the Grizzlies, and the offense will follow in stride.
No matter what analysis there is on the Brooklyn Nets, they just aren’t very good. They have only won 10 games this year and their good games can’t beat most of the league’s teams at their worst. There shouldn’t be any issue beating this Nets team, barring a massive fall out from the Grizzlies. Memphis has struggled to start games well after the All-Star break, and the Nets are an easy target to fix this problem. I predict that Memphis will win this game easily and give some much needed minutes to bench players looking to make a playoff rotation.
Spread: Brooklyn Nets +12 I’m not a betting man as I never have been very consistent in choosing spreads. I predict the Grizzlies will win easily, but 12 points is a ton in today’s NBA. I would take the Nets with 12 points.
Memphis Grizzlies 111, Brooklyn Nets 101