WHERE: Staples Center — Los Angeles, CA
WHEN: 2:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast / 92.9 ESPN Memphis
Memphis: Dillon Brooks (left knee sprain), Chandler Parsons (right knee soreness)
Los Angeles: Luc Mbah a Toute (sore knee)
Memphis: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
Los Angeles: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Marcin Gortat
The Memphis Grizzlies have been absolutely stellar lately, reeling off five straight impressive victories and sitting pretty at the top of the Western Conference.
Though many people wrote them off at the beginning of the season due to health and age, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are experiencing a renaissance of sorts, as they’re both playing at an All-Star level. Conley has been red-hot these past two games. Against Dallas on Monday night, he notched 28 points while hitting 7 three-pointer’s — tying a career high. In the last game against San Antonio, Conley scored 30 points and dropped 9 dimes, while coming into the clutch in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Big Spain has been an absolute beast on this winning streak, averaging 22.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks over the past 5 games. He’s simply re-establishing himself as a premier big man on both ends of the court with this hot start.
The Memphis Grizzlies aren’t the only ones out to surprising starts right now. The Los Angeles Clippers are off and running as well, as they have an 11-6 record and are 3rd in the Western Conference. For the Clippers, they get the job done by committee. They have 3 great perimeter scorers in Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, and Lou Williams — all averaging north of 18 points a game. Montrezl Harrell has also been a huge boost for their bench, as he’s really establishing himself as a solid two-way 5, despite being a tad undersized. He’s averaging a career-high 15.5 points on 66.9% shooting from the field, 7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. They’re also getting a nice lift from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who’s flashed poise and promise a lot quicker than people expected.
This isn’t your father’s Grizzlies or Clippers teams, but it should still be a good one in Los Angeles. Here’s what to watch for ...
Matchup to Watch
The most interesting battle to watch in this game is Kyle Anderson vs. Tobias Harris. Both of these young wings are unheralded for different aspects of their game. Anderson is one of the most versatile, prolific defenders in basketball, as he passes with flying colors in the analytics department.
Harris, on the other hand, has proven himself to be a reliable go-to scoring option for a good team. He’s averaging 21.4 points on a 51.9/44.4/81.0 shooting line, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists. He’s really rounded out his game, learning to become more of a 3-dimensional scorer and more of a facilitator. In the process, he’s becoming one of the most underrated stars in the league and solidifying himself as a top-10 player at his position.
Anderson will probably be tasked to guard Harris in this one, and his ability to slow him down could be the deciding factor in this one.
Major Key Alert
To strengthen their chances for victory here, Jaren Jackson must stay out of foul trouble, which plagued him last game against San Antonio. On Wednesday night, he only played 13 minutes, which isn’t ideal by any means. Over the past several games though, when he’s not fouling once every 2 1⁄2 minutes, he’s made a devastating impact on both ends of the court. In the 5 games prior to Wednesday night’s doozie, Jackson was averaging 15.2 points on a shooting line of 57.1/37.5/75.0, 4.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.8 steals, and 2.8 blocks.
That’s really good.
His ability to block and alter shots both at and away from the rim is transcendent. He can stay in front of smaller players in switch situations. Offensively, he’s already shown that he can score in multiple ways and create for himself off the dribble. They don’t have many players like him around Gasol and Conley, and they’re going to need all the help they can get against a deep Clippers team.
In this game, he’ll probably be tasked with guarding some sort of combination Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, and Montrezl Harrell. The Clippers simply have too much depth, and the Grizzlies have too little front-court help, for Jackson to be in foul trouble.
Oh shoot, I’m not much of a predictor. If I had to guess though, the first quarter is going to be slow as molasses, as both teams will still be in a Thanksgiving food coma and aren’t used to early starts. They’ll pick things back up in the second quarter, and it’ll probably be a tied game in the 50’s at half. Then, in the 3rd quarter, it’ll look like the Clippers are pulling away, as they’ll end the quarter with a lead ranged from 8-14. In the 4th quarter though, the Grizzlies will pull something out of their rear to come back in spectacular fashion, which will raise the fans’ blood pressure in the process.
Memphis 105, Los Angeles 102.
Stats found on basketball-reference.