WHERE: Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah
WHEN: 8:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Chandler Parsons (Out, knee), JaMychal Green (Out, jaw)
UTAH: Donovan Mitchell (Out, hamstring), Alec Burks (Out, hand), Raul Neto (Out, hamstring)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
UTAH: Ricky Rubio, Joe Ingles, Jae Crowder, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert
No, you’re not dreaming.
Yes, we’ve been here before.
For the second time in less than two weeks, the Memphis Grizzlies are playing the Utah Jazz, in Utah. However, this showdown with Utah will look a bit different than the last time these two squads squared off. The major change will of course be the absence of Donovan Mitchell for the Jazz, one of the most exciting young players in the entire NBA. Considering the Grizzlies struggle scoring the rock, the fact that Mitchell and his offensive prowess is missing this game probably doesn’t upset Memphis too much.
Of course, the Jazz are plenty dangerous even with Mitchell not in the fold. Rudy Gobert is a defensive monster, Joe Ingles is off to the best start of his career, and Ricky Rubio appears to be in the best shape of his life. The Jazz are a sneaky 4-3 early in the season - they have played some pretty good teams to this point, and have beaten some good (so far) teams like the Pelicans and Kings. Memphis, meanwhile, has only one solid victory on their resume so far over these very Utah Jazz. Outside of that, wins against the Wizards, Hawks, and Suns don’t exactly scream “contender”.
Win a second game in Utah, even with Mitchell out? Then things get a bit more interesting. Here are some things to watch for tonight.
Jaren Jackson Jr. and being on the court - a saga unfolding
The last time these two squads faced off, JJJ made his first career start and showed flashes of what has Memphis so steamed up about what he brings to the table as a player. He owned the post against Derrick Favors on several possessions offensively and showed an innate understanding of body positioning and defensive rotations that a younger playing such as himself should not possess. The sky is the limit for the talented Jaren...
As long as he can stay on the floor. He current leads the NBA in fouls committed per game, and this “issue” that isn’t really an issue for a variety of reasons has clearly followed him from Michigan State to Memphis. This is obviously something that with reps and maturity Jaren can grow out of, but that takes time and time is not something the thin-at-big Memphis Grizzlies have at the moment. It’s not that they need Jackson to be “the man” - they just need his big body on the floor, and not on the bench in foul trouble.
Hopefully he avoids the pine tonight and logs 28-30 minutes.
Kyle Anderson - Offensive offense?
You don’t sign Kyle Anderson to be a scorer.
He can defend multiple positions, and the defensive metrics LOVE Kyle Anderson. Marc Gasol has been the anchor to the revitalized Grizzlies defense, but Anderson has kept the ship afloat on the perimeter thanks to his length, timing on steal, and overall comprehension of the concept of team defensive scheme. Kyle Anderson can facilitate, he can create, he can be just about everything but a scorer. I don’t need him to score...
I need him to make lay-ups.
He is not doing it on purpose, of course, but as well as Kyle has played in other areas of the game he’s been that bad shooting. He’s last on the team in scoring per game among players that have played at least three games at four points per contest, and he is currently shooting worst (38.5%) than he has since his rookie season. Kyle’s career averages of 47.6% and 49.9% on two-point buckets say that he will rise up to the mean shooting eventually, and tonight would be a great night for that to happen with the Jazz a bit undermanned on the wing with Mitchell out.
This seemed like a game ripe for the Grizzlies to drop...until the news that Mitchell would be out broke. Then, a glimmer of hope lit up the eyes and dreams of this blogger. Sure, the Grizzlies outplayed the Jazz the last time out, but Utah is pretty clearly the superior squad when healthy. Fortunately for Memphis, the Jazz will not be healthy for this one.
A Utah victory would not surprise in the slightest. But with Donovan sitting out this contest, the Grizzlies will once again find a way to win with strong defense and protecting possessions offensively.
Memphis 93, Utah 91