WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- NONE (!)
ATLANTA- Justin Anderson (Out), John Collins (Out), Dewayne Dedmon (Out), Daniel Hamilton (Out), Omari Spellman (Doubtful)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
ATLANTA- Trae Young, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, Vince Carter, Alex Len
The Grizzlies get right back in action Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks. Memphis comes home and will be ready for the opener in FedExForum. They will need to have a short memory and forget about their first game to take on this Hawks team. To have confidence going forward, these are the games the Grizzlies are going to have to win.
The Hawks are early candidates to be the worst team in the league this season. Without Coach Mike Budenholzer leading the team, the Hawks will look to be in constant tank mode as they hope to have two early picks in next year’s draft. In their season opener, Atlanta lost in New York to the Knicks. They didn’t show much chemistry at all in that game which earned them a beatdown from a Knicks team which also doesn’t look to be very impressive this season.
The Grizzlies need to come out and get the crowd into it early. Wednesday was a forgettable performance in every facet of the game. This home crowd will hopefully get the team’s heads right as they look to get their first win of the season. As mentioned, the Hawks are a team that the Grizzlies should beat, but not only that, the team can start to develop a rhythm in their offense. That will be more important than anything else this early in the season.
Here are two things to note before tonight’s matchup:
Clean up on defense
One of the most frustrating things from opening night was the lack of communication on simple pick and rolls time and time again. It happened with Garrett Temple, Chandler Parsons, and JaMychal Green too often when they were on the court together. This overall lack of defense was one of the main contributors to the discrepancy that was seen in points in the paint last game.
The Pacers have a much more talented roster than the Hawks. So, this game is where the Grizzlies need to shore up things on defense. It’s not hard to fix the lack of communication on switching. The coaching staff just needs to remind these guys to play together and guard the paint to stop the potential cutter coming off the pick. These are the simple misses that were spotlighted last game.
If the Grizzlies can do that, the defensive stops should lead to better looks on the offensive end. These can get the transition game rolling which inevitably helps the offense run. All these guys need to see the ball go through the basket, and they will start picking up their stats. It can all stem from good defense.
Establishing an inside presence
Another huge statistic that stood out in Wednesday’s game was the rebounding numbers. The Grizzlies were out-rebounded at an embarrassing rate that cannot continue over this season. The team must establish some kind of inside game to not give up so many second chances. It completely kills the psyche of the team after giving it their all creating a missed shot, only for an offensive rebound to still result in giving up points.
The Hawks are a team that the Grizzlies do not need to lose a rebounding battle to. Atlanta throws out odd lineups, playing mostly small ball around center Alex Len. Taurean Prince acts as their power forward, but his game has him playing out around the arc. Without a tradition frontcourt, Gasol needs to stay underneath and help JaMychal Green with the rebounding duties. Also, this is a chance for Jaren Jackson to have a good stat line. Double-doubles are in play for the bigs in this one.
My prediction is that the Grizzlies will win this one, but not after a little doubt. The Grizzlies looked terrible in their season opener, so I do believe some of that rust will carry over into this outing. It will start out slow for both teams most of the first half. The Hawks do not have any players to take a game over, and that is where the difference lies between these two teams. Mike Conley and/or Marc Gasol can light a fire under this team in the second half to get them going. This is only amplified at the Forum. That is what I see happening tonight. A concerning start ends in a Grizzlies win after a second half explosion by Conley or Gasol.
Spread: Grizzlies -3. Take the Grizzlies in this one. I would almost dare to say put a little extra capital on it. Memphis plays well at home and they need a big win. The Hawks do not have any business keeping this game close.
Memphis- 105, Atlanta- 97