WHEN: 6:00 PM CT
WHERE: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Andrew Harrison (Probable, wrist), Marc Gasol (Probable, illness), Ivan Rabb (Questionable, heel) Mike Conley (Out, heel)
PHILADELPHIA- Markelle Fultz (Out, shoulder), Furkan Korkmaz (Out, foot), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (Questionable, knee)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS-
MEMPHIS- Tyreke Evans, Dillon Brooks, Jarell Martin, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
PHILADELPHIA- Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid
A new streak has begun.
After snapping a 19-game losing streak against the Nuggets, Memphis went back to their losing ways Monday against the Nets. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, however. With no Tyreke Evans, no Marc Gasol, and still no Mike Conley, the Grizzlies actually performed amicably. They shot well from all over the floor, they rebounded well, too. Just that pesky part where the Nets shot double the amount of free throws of the Grizzlies (40-20). Yeah, that’ll do it if you wanna start losing.
But the Grizzlies can stop the bleeding before it gets out of hand like before. They’ll take on the Philadelphia 76ers on their court Wednesday night and face a young, hungry team seemingly destined for big things. In the first year of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons together, they’re firmly in the playoff hunt despite those two playing a combined 157 games in their entire careers. It speaks to just how great these young players and how great Brett Brown has been as a coach. They gave him time to grow with the team during #TheProcess and it has paid off.
The 76ers seem to have their future locked into place; they KNOW the cornerstones of their franchise in 5-10 years, save for the unprecedented uncertainty around first overall pick Markelle Fultz. The Grizzlies are in an opposite mindset. What Memphis will look two years from now is a complete crap shoot. Both teams face off in opposite ends of the playoff hunt as well.
As Memphis has rested comfortably in the cellar all season, Philadelphia fights for a playoff spot and possibly home-court advantage in the first round. For the Grizzlies to play spoiler tonight, here’s what needs to happen.
Treat Embiid Like He’s Human
This is going to be difficult, because if we’ve learned anything from watching him play, Joel Embiid is most certainly not human. But, try to convince yourselves.
While Joel has still been great, especially defensively, he hasn’t been his best offensive self lately. In the month of March, his shooting splits read .443/.308/.686 even though he’s still putting up a silly 22 and 12 every night. Like I said, he isn’t human, but his shooting might be. Joel Embiid constantly gets guys to bite on his pump-fake from three, even though he’s a career 33% shooter. Just the fact that he shoots it so often makes him a threat that needs to be closed out, and he makes defenders pay for it.
Maybe the Grizzlies should back off on Embiid and keep clogging the paint for a team who already has a limited shooter in Ben Simmons on the floor. Forcing Joel Embiid to beat you might be a death wish, but it might be the only chance the Grizzlies have on defense.
Keep the Offense Balanced
Against the Nets, no one in particular stood out offensively, but they got the job done. Memphis scored 115 points despite not a single player crossing the 20-point threshold. With no Marc or Reke, the difference between the players on this team might be marginal, but it’s also an ideal way to get your offense.
Briante Weber supplied 15 off the bench on 7/11 shooting. Chandler Parsons scored 13 on 5 shots in 15 minutes, some staggering efficiency. All the while Dillon Brooks continued his production streak and JaMychal Green made 7-of-8 shots and played like a madman on defense. Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans are coming back to the lineup, they’ll be sure to provide a scoring punch of their own. Reke alone scored 25 in his first game back from his rib injury last week against the Bulls.
The Sixers are a top defensive team (6th in defensive rating and 2nd in opponent eFG%) and have a slew of good-to-great on-ball defenders with Joel Embiid as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Keeping the offensive a balanced attack can keep Philly from controlling the game defensively
The Grizzlies were able to keep it close and competitive against the Nets. The Sixers are not the Nets.
They have more talent, they’re better defensively, and better coached than both the Nets and Grizzlies, possibly combined.
I have no idea how the Grizzlies beat the 76ers earlier in the season. Yes, they somehow played earlier in the regular season in January even though that feels like 7 years ago.
This must not surprising, but I’m picking the 76ers to win this one. I don’t think it’ll be a blowout, but they will make their presence known against an inferior team.
Philadelphia 107 Memphis 98