WHERE: TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts
WHEN: 6:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley (Out, Left Heel), Chandler Parsons (Out, Illness), Tyreke Evans (Out, Right Rib), Wayne Selden Jr. (Out, Right Knee Soreness)
BOSTON- Gordon Hayward (Out, Ankle), Aron Baynes (Questionable, Elbow)
MEMPHIS- Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, Jarell Martin, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
BOSTON- Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Daniel Theis
The Grizzlies are shipping up to Boston to play the Celtics Monday night at TD Garden. It will be the second game of a short road trip for Memphis following the game in Miami Saturday night.
These two teams faced each other in early December when the Celtics came into FedExForum and took the win 102-93. The Grizzlies were led by Marc Gasol in that one who had 30 points and 10 rebounds. Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum were the leading scorers for the Celtics.
The Grizzlies have a quiet 9-game losing streak going on that has been broken up by the All-Star break. Loaded injury reports and playing Mario Chalmers big minutes are the formula Memphis is using during this slide. Boston comes in after a much-needed All-Star break for them. They have won two games in a row after beating the New York Knicks Saturday night. This is a Celtics team who have been clicking this year even without one of their big offseason acquisitions, Gordon Hayward. It will be a tall task if the Grizzlies stand a chance to compete.
These are the two things to note going into the game:
Dominating the Paint
The Celtics’ biggest weakness over the past few years has been the lack of an inside presence. They always lose the rebounding battle and give up countless second-chance points. Boston ranks second-worst in the league in points in the paint.
This is a flaw that the Grizzlies need to expose with Marc Gasol coming back after missing the game in Miami on Saturday. He will have a chance to put up big numbers similar to what he did in their first matchup. Boston’s regular starting center Aron Baynes suffered an elbow injury in their game against Detroit, so he has been questionable on his status. This will mean 27-year-old German rookie, Daniel Theis, will get the start at center.
Theis has been a solid role player for the Celtics this season, but he does not have the experience and skill to slow down Gasol. Look for Gasol to be able to score at will if they can get him the ball.
JaMychal Green has also had good games over the last 10, and this may continue. Al Horford is a big who likes to facilitate and stretch the court more than fighting for rebounds, so Green can take advantage of this matchup as well down low.
Breaking Through the Boston Defense
The Celtics rank first in the league in defensive rating and second in the league in opponent’s points per game. This may cause major problems for the Grizzlies to find offense. Outside of Gasol, they will not have much success finding a way to score. Tyreke Evans is out again after his injury a few games ago.
Memphis is going to have to call on Andrew Harrison to keep his momentum going. He has played well even in losing efforts. The young Grizzlies are who need the most experience night in, night out. Dillon Brooks will be called on in this matchup, so hopefully, he will put up good numbers. I would also like to see a good chunk of minutes for Ivan Rabb in this one as well.
My prediction for the game does not look promising for the Grizzlies. The Celtics are back to playing good basketball again, and they have started developing an offensive rhythm post-All Star break. I think it will continue in this contest as they will be playing in front of a good home crowd.
Also, the Grizzlies do not have much to play for. With only 24 games left this season, the team is really starting to look at the standings closer than before. The anti-tankers may not want to hear it, but that is the scenario the team is having to face. However, I do see Gasol having another solid game around the same stat line he put up in the first contest between these two teams.
Spread: BOS -11.5. Because of all that, I would take the Celtic minus the points. That is a lot of points, but I think the Celtics have found a groove that will continue Monday. The Grizzlies may have a push in the third or fourth quarter as we have seen before, but it will not be enough to ultimately win.
Celtics- 112, Grizzlies- 95