WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 8:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: ESPN/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley (Out, heel), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee)
WASHINGTON- Sheldon Mac (Out, Achilles)
MEMPHIS- Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
WASHINGTON- John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porten Jr., Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat
The Memphis Grizzlies are finally home.
They could use all the home cooking they can get. Memphis is currently 14 games under .500 and only one game in the loss column behind the Atlanta Hawks in the race to the bottom that is the NBA Lottery. Even with the rumors and whispers of Mike Conley’s return coming up on the horizon, times remain tough for the bears of Beale Street.
The Washington Wizards, meanwhile, are playing some of their best basketball of the season. They have won five of their last six games, with two of those victories coming against NBA elites like the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets. Bradley Beal may well make his first ever All-Star Game this season, and John Wall remains a force of nature. Combine that with solid role players, and the Wizards keep chugging along toward the four or five seed in the Eastern Conference.
Jealous? Yeah, me too. Keys to the game-
Wall off the rest of the Wizards
John Wall and Bradley Beal make up one of the best backcourts in the entire NBA. They are going to have success, especially against Tyreke Evans and Andrew Harrison. Those two just aren’t in the league of Washington’s starting guards. But where the Grizzlies can maintain or gain ground is elsewhere on the roster- Gortat isn’t the equal of Gasol, and the Wizards bench is not the strength of this Washington team.
While Wall and Beal are likely to get theirs, if Memphis can keep the rest of the Wizards in check scoring wise this game can stay close.
Stick together for the kids
As was discussed on the GBBLive podcast last night (listen here if you missed it), the main focus of Memphis should be on the young players that make up a majority of this roster at this stage of the season. The organization can talk all they want about the playoffs, but Superman isn’t walking through that door to save the Grizzlies. Mike Conley cannot be expected to lead Memphis on the 11 or 12 game winning streak that it would take to even get within two or so games of the 8th seed. Rushing him back is foolish- let the young guys like Kobi Simmons get run and figure out what he can be.
That being said, that means the Grizzlies need these young guys to keep progressing in order to pull out the victory. If they are stagnant, or cold from the floor, or don’t execute defensively? It will be a long night for the home team.
These two teams beefed a little bit the last time they got together, so that may make things a little more chippy and aggressive than normal early on. The Grizzlies have to keep their composure and limit their fouls if they want to compete with Washington, as foul trouble would make the Grizzlies rely on Ben McLemore and Ben McLemore minutes that would end...well, probably not well (or well, if you are a tanker).
The hard fact is the Wizards have more talent and are simply better than the Grizzlies. Even with Memphis back at FedExForum for the first time in a couple weeks, that probably won’t be enough to bridge the skill gap between the two squads.
Washington 106, Memphis 101