WHEN: 6:00 PM CT
WHERE: Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
INDIANA: C.J. Wilcox (Out, Achilles)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
INDIANA- Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner
After a busy summer and a “meh” preseason, the start of the NBA season has arrived for the Memphis Grizzlies.
With plenty of questions left to be answered, the journey towards figuring out just exactly who this version of the Grizzlies will be begins tonight in Indiana. For Memphis, the tried and true faces of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will be welcome sights after a couple seasons of drastic change. Only six of the seventeen current members of the Grizzlies were on the squad two seasons ago, and that amount of overturn and change (in addition to a new coach) can create all kinds of havoc for even the steadiest of locker rooms and organizations.
The more things change, though, the more they stay the same. How will the Grizzlies score? Will they be able to push tempo? These are other mysteries remain at the center of just how good, or bad, Memphis will be this season.
The process begins tonight. Here’s what to watch for.
Who will finish the game?
It’s been very en vogue for Grizzlies fans and media to questions the current projected starting lineup, and just how long it will stay that way. The idea of Chandler Parsons, Garrett Temple, and JaMychal Green all staying in the first five seems far-fetched, but there’s no doubt that this first crack as a first unit is the most experienced and steady group that the Grizzlies could assemble.
Assume that the game tonight is tight down the stretch, though...will that will be the finishing unit? It largely depends on what the Pacers, and any team on any given night, throws out at Memphis - that is one of the positives of depth and versatility. If one player will break that closing group, Kyle Anderson seems to make the most sense. He can facilitate, switch, defend, and while he isn’t the shooter that Parsons or even Temple is, he makes up for it with his length and versatility.
Chandler Parsons and JaMychal Green probably stay on the floor to close games. I expect...or hope...that Kyle Anderson will join them. But anything is possible with new man in charge J.B. Bickerstaff calling the shots.
Mike Conley - Offensive force of nature
The emphasis on basketball IQ and facilitation on the wing was obvious this offseason, and with health finally on his side Mike Conley must be chomping at the bit to compete. He will be given plenty of opportunity to score the basketball in a variety of ways, largely out of necessity - besides him and Marc Gasol, there isn’t much offensive firepower on this Grizzlies roster. For Memphis to have a chance in this or any game, they will need Marc and Mike to thrive on the offensive end of the floor.
Given Conley’s skill set and ability to create off the dribble, it will start with him. When Mike plays well, the Grizzlies will compete. When he struggles? Look out, because the bottom can fall out fast.
The Grizzlies historically aren’t all that good on opening night. They have, however, won their last two first games, and Memphis will have the advantage of surprise in this game. No one really knows exactly what to expect from the Grizzlies for a full 48 minutes, and Bickerstaff and his coaches almost certainly want to take advantage of that. Outside of Conley and Gasol, Memphis has a lot of new faces and players who may be Grizzlies veterans but haven’t played “meaningful” basketball in a long while.
It is going to be a low-scoring affair, as most Grizzlies wins will be this season, but Mike Conley will score over 20 points and Memphis will win their third straight opening game of a season.
Memphis 94, Indiana 90