WHERE: FedExForum, Memphis, TN
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 ESPN Memphis
Memphis- Chandler Parsons (Out, left knee)
New York- Joakim Noah (Out, suspension), Kristaps Porzingis (Questionable, sore lower back), Chasson Randle (Questionable, sprained left ankle), Derrick Rose (Out, left knee), Lance Thomas (Questionable, hip)
Grizzlies - Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Vince Carter, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
Knicks - Ron Baker, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Willy Hernangomez, Marshall Plumlee
After Wednesday night’s loss to the Thunder, the Grizzlies are pretty much guaranteed the 7th seed in the playoffs and a match-up against the San Antonio Spurs. Most people have expected this, but Wednesday’s game made it a reality. Although they are losers of 3 straight, the Grizzlies have played well since their loss Sunday to the Lakers.
Starting tonight against the Knicks, the Grizzlies will play 3 straight games at home against sub-500 teams. This gives the Grizzlies a prime opportunity to get on a hot streak going into the playoffs. Here are a few keys to tonight’s game to get the Grizzlies playoff ready.
Jump to an Early Lead
The Knicks season has been very unfortunate, to put it nicely. They’ve resorted to playing their younger players heavy minutes and “trying” to run the triangle offense. The best and easiest way for the Grizzlies to win this game would be to jump out to an early lead. If the Grizz can jump on the Knicks in the first quarter and frustrate them, the young guys will essentially give up on the game eventually. However, if the Grizzlies let the Knicks hang around it might give a bad team hope to pull out a late season win, like they almost did last night against the Wizards. At this point in the season, the Grizzlies’ postseason fate is basically sealed, and this game will only be an added win or loss on the Grizz record. It would still benefit the Grizzlies to start fast when preparing for the playoffs for more reasons than just getting the win.
The Grizzlies would benefit from an early lead because it would hopefully lead to Coach Fizdale giving guys some rest. It doesn’t necessarily mean they need to sit out the core players, but Mike Conley playing less than 30 minutes would be pretty cool. It would also be equally beneficial for the Grizzlies to allow their younger players to get more minutes. Less minutes for Conley and Gasol means more minutes for Wade Baldwin IV and Deyonta Davis. Neither player figures to get many, if any, minutes in the playoffs, but getting some more game experience before the season ends would keep them ready in case they are needed in the postseason.
Get into a Groove
Mike Conley has been in the zone since the All-Star Break (really the entire season), but Gasol, Z-Bo, TA, and others have been inconsistent since the break. The Knicks are not a great defensive team, so it should give the Grizzlies a great opportunity to get back into a flow on offense. They played well in Conley’s absence on Wednesday, but for most of the season the team has been awful with Conley off the court. If the Grizzlies want to put up a fight in the playoffs, they’ll need to make sure they can survive the few minutes with Conley off the court. Look for the Grizzlies to try and get Gasol going offensively since he’s been in a funk for the majority of the second half of the season.
The Knicks have been a dumpster fire this season, especially considering Derrick Rose claimed people were calling the Knicks a “super team” going into the season. It should be an easy win for the Grizzlies tonight. Unfortunately, these Grizzlies rarely take the easy way out. Like I stated earlier, the win or loss really doesn’t matter, but Grizz fans would have reason to be concerned if the team struggles tonight.
I believe the Grizzlies can smell the playoffs approaching and will come out with a sense of urgency. I predict the Grizz will jump out to an early lead and come away with a win, but the bigger question focuses more on how they play and how much guys like Mike Conley and Marc Gasol play.
Grizzlies 110, Knicks 95