WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Andrew Harrison (Probable, shoulder), Dillon Brooks (Questionable, illness), Mario Chalmers (Questionable, shoulder), Jarell Martin (Questionable, hand), Mike Conley (Out, heel), James Ennis III (Out, calf), JaMychal Green (Out, ankle), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee)
PHILADELPHIA- Jerryd Bayless (Questionable, wrist), Richaun Holmes (Questionable, illness), Furkan Korkmaz (Out, foot), Markelle Fultz (Out, shoulder), JJ Redick (Out, leg)
MEMPHIS- Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore, Dillon Brooks, Jarell Martin, Marc Gasol
PHILADELPHIA- Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid
Remember the warmth of that three-game winning streak?
The winter that is the tank may have finally set in.
This time last week Memphis and their Grizzlies were enjoying the national spotlight as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to close out the annual Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance in the city. From there, victories over the Knicks and Kings had some thinking that perhaps the young Grizzlies, led by Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol, has found their footing.
Then, the Pelicans game came. And multiple folks sat out. And Memphis got beat.
Tonight, against “The Process” Joel Embiid and his the Philadelphia 76ers? Even more may miss this home contest, as shown by the above injury report. It is possible, of course, that all of the various ailments listed above are real. It would not be the first time that the Grizzlies had a long, legitimate injury report. Is it also possible that those who are a bit under the weather, or have a nagging issue that wouldn’t hold them out in a more “meaningful” game, are being treated with extra caution?
How can the Grizzlies, whoever plays, knock off a vastly improved Sixers squad?
Emphasize forcing mistakes
Ben Simmons and the Sixers are realizing the potential thought of so long ago when Sam Hinkie began the intensive process of developing Philly in to a contender. They still have a ways to go, though- the massive amount of talent that they have is still very young, and raw in multiple ways. The main place this shines through is in their turnovers per game, an NBA-worst 18.1 a game. Part of this goes with the quicker pace they play with (100.6, 2nd highest in the Association), but it also coincides with being such a young roster. Simmons and Embiid alone average over eight turnovers a game. They make many mistakes...and anyone who has watched the Grizzlies this season (or any season in recent memory) knows their offense is at its best when it feeds off of its defense and creating turnovers.
Memphis should have opportunities to make more possessions for themselves. The key, of course, is to do something positive with them.
Make the right guys miss from range
There are certain players Philly wants taking, and making, their shots from beyond the arc. Redick (out tonight), Covington, T.J. McConnell, Dario Saric...those players all shoot above 36% from three and are the driving force behind their spacing. Then, there are others who are far better at the rim- Embiid (29% from three), Luwawu-Cabarrot (31.9%), and Ben Simmons (hasn’t made a three ALL SEASON LONG) do not excel at this aspect of offensive basketball.
Game planning is key. Against the Sixers you must force their perimeter shooters to create off the dribble and understand when/how to collapse and help on to the likes of Simmons and Embiid in the paint. Be willing to give Joel the three, or allow for Saric to try to be a dribble drive player. Make them beat you in ways they are not accustomed to doing so. Easier said than done, but understanding the strengths of your opponent makes it easier to try to limit them...especially when they are much more talented than you are.
J.B Bickerstaff and his staff have their hands full tonight. They will be nowhere near full strength...even what they had just a week ago in terms of able bodies. That isn’t ideal on any night, much less one where the most talented young team in the NBA is in town. Embiid and Simmons could very well wipe out any effectiveness Gasol and Evans can muster, and if that occurs it will be a long night for the Grizzlies.
Thankfully for Memphis, the Sixers aren’t quite at full strength either. The absence of Redick hurts them offensively, and his veteran presence is missed when it comes to keeping the young Sixers focused in times of adversity. Because of this, the game will stay closer than perhaps it should...until the fourth quarter, and the talent of Embiid and Simmons helps Philly pull away.
Philadelphia 109, Memphis 103