WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley (Out, heel), Chandler Parsons (Out, rest), Tyreke Evans (Out, rib), Mario Chalmers (Out, hamstring), Andrew Harrison (Out, wrist), Jarell Martin (Questionable, knee)
UTAH- Dante Exum (Out, shoulder), Thao Sefolosha (Out, knee)
MEMPHIS- Kobi Simmons, Ben McLemore, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
UTAH- Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert
The Utah Jazz, much like the Memphis Grizzlies, are on the outside looking in.
They’re just a lot closer to getting to their destination.
Entering tonight’s slate of games, the Utah Jazz are a half game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are 17.5 games back of that seed and for the first time in a long time will be eliminated from playoff contention, possibly as early as tonight. Utah has everything to be playing for as they try to get to a seed in the first round that does not involve playing the Warriors or Rockets, while the Grizzlies are just trying to win a game.
While the “tank” is becoming more and more accepted by the fan base, the players and coaches of the Memphis Grizzlies surely are not enjoying what a 15-game losing streak. They will continue to, as they have throughout the season, put forth their best effort to try to win this game. To do that, they will have to break some bad habits they’ve developed over the streak.
Here’s how Memphis can compete and give themselves a chance tonight to silence the Jazz and enjoy a win for the first time in 39 days.
PROTECT THE ROCK
When players like Ben McLemore commit six turnovers in a single contest, it is hard for a struggling team like Memphis to overcome. This is exactly what happened against the Bulls on Wednesday night, but in fairness to Ben he is not alone when it comes to carelessness with the basketball. In fact, JaMychal Green (five turnovers against the Spurs last Monday) and Marc Gasol (seven turnovers against the Nuggets last Friday) are also recent culprits turnover-wise. On a struggling team like Memphis, every possession matters. If the Grizzlies can keep the turnovers down, they have a shot at sticking in the game thanks to their slower pace of play.
If they have veteran starters losing the ball five or more times, in addition to the mistakes you’re sure to have with such a young roster around them? You’re going to get beat, pretty badly more than likely.
GET WAYNE SELDEN JR. GOING
This may come as a shock, but Dillon Brooks cannot do it alone. At this stage of his career, as best he may try, neither can Marc Gasol, especially against Rudy Gobert, one of the game’s best centers. JaMychal Green, while he is asked to be “that guy” at times, is not equipped to carry this team for any stretch. If a win is going to be achieved, it is going to take a village. Of those players currently playing for Memphis, it is Wayne Selden most capable of stepping up.
Coming in to this season Selden was viewed as a potential competitor for a starting role on a Grizzlies team that was expected by many to be in the playoff hunt. Injuries and other issues have derailed that, but the fact remains Selden has talent and can have a Brooks-esque offensive run at any time. They’re too few and far between, as the record shows, but a good Selden performance will go a long way.
Earlier in the season, even as recently as before this losing streak, this game would have the feel of one Memphis could steal. The Grizzlies were/are still playing very hard, had Tyreke Evans playing, and the Jazz could easily overlook Memphis toward tougher games coming up on the horizon. But Memphis is simply too injured, too “broken” at this stage, and the Jazz are playing for too much. Utah wants to win to make the playoffs, and simply cannot afford to lose games like this if they hope to keep pace in the competitive playoff chase.
Utah needs this one more than Memphis. The streak will eventually end...just not tonight.
Utah 103, Memphis 95