WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Omri Casspi (Doubtful, knee soreness), Dillon Brooks (Out, knee strain), JaMychal Green (Out, broken jaw), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee soreness)
UTAH: Ricky Rubio (Probable, back), Raul Neto (Out, hamstring)
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
UTAH: Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert
We meet again, Utah.
The Jazz and the Memphis Grizzlies are about to square off for the third time this young season, but this time the two squads that are so familiar with each other meet in an unfamiliar place...at least for Utah. This time, Memphis welcomes the Jazz to the Grindhouse, which at least by record is earning its nickname so far in the 2018-2019 campaign. The Grizzlies are 5-0 at home, and between that and the current 2-0 record that Memphis holds over the Jazz in two games in Utah, surely the Grizz will pull out a win with relative ease...right?
For starters, the injuries are starting to pile up. Add Dillon Brooks and probably Omri Casspi to the JaMychal/Chandler heap, and the Memphis’s depth is suddenly starting to get tested. Then, Utah is still Utah, a very talented and well-coached squad that can beat anybody on any given night. Finally, while the Grizzlies being up 2-0 in the season series with the Jazz is impressive, (arguably) the best player for Utah didn’t suit up in round two in Donovan Mitchell. He is healthy and ready to ball for this one.
Here’s what to watch for tonight.
Gasol vs Gobert: Act III
By most measures, in the first two battles of the bigs for Memphis Marc Gasol has pulled out minor victories over Gobert. Marc has been more versatile as both a scorer and a defender in these games, and while Rudy certainly wasn’t a schmuck (especially in the second game), Gasol has made it a point to prove that he can still play with a player the caliber of Gobert. So far, he’s been successful.
The challenge for Utah is that if Gobert is indeed the guy defending Gasol, it usually pulls Rudy away from the rim where he is most effective because so much of Marc’s game is perimeter and elbow based. That, of course, makes scoring in the paint easier for those around Gasol. However, if Rudy sags off Marc and tries to eliminate cuts, you wind up leaving a big man currently shooting 46.2% from beyond the arc wide open.
Gobert is caught between a rock and a hard place. Gasol must continue to be a threat from range to limit the impact Rudy Gobert can have.
Bench Scoring...Mack Needs More Help
By all accounts, Shelvin Mack has been a revelation for the Memphis Grizzlies so far. The veteran point guard has been a terrific backup point guard and then some, being effective when Mike Conley is both on and off the floor so far this season. Shelvin being the sixth man the Grizzlies knew they needed but weren’t sure they had to this point has been a very pleasant surprise.
With Dillon Brooks and probably Omri Casspi out, however, he will need a heck of a lot more help to maintain that effectiveness. Players like MarShon Brooks and Wayne Selden Jr. can’t just stay in their lanes and be single-minded in terms of their roles if the bench hopes to not miss a beat, especially with Dillon not in the lineup. Making it possible for Mack to still have scoring opportunities and focusing on keeping the ball moving and defensive rotations maintained while the starters are out will be vital if the Grizzlies hope to pull off the upset.
Yes, it would still be an upset.
It really is terrific that Memphis is where they are currently. Big wins over Philadelphia, Denver, and this Utah team twice are all pieces of evidence being added to the argument that even in 2018 the Grizzlies are, indeed, good when both Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are healthy and leading the way.
That doesn’t change the fact that the Jazz are a better built roster though, capable of long stretches of both elite defensive play and explosive offensive runs. The Grizzlies are coming off two emotionally charged victories, and beating a good team three times in a row is really hard to do, whether it’s the third straight really good team or the third game against the same really good team.
It’ll be competitive for much of the game. Utah pulls away late, though.
Utah 102, Memphis 97