WHERE: TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts
WHEN: 6:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Out, toe), Kyle Anderson (Out, ankle)
BOSTON: Jabari Bird (Out, personal)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Justin Holiday, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
BOSTON: Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Al Horford
As far as season-defining stretches go, the Memphis Grizzlies are finding this one to be a real downer.
Memphis entered this important ten game stretch, which will end with a five game home stand, looking to dig themselves out of a self-inflicted hole. Instead of rallying and coming together to rise to the challenge, however, the Grizzlies have lost three straight games since their win over the San Antonio Spurs and have lost their last two outings by double digit points. The last game against the Bucks was far more of a blowout than the final score shows - Memphis has been outclassed badly of late.
The slate doesn’t lighten tonight as the Grizzlies begin what has to be one of, if not the, most difficult back to back sets of their season. Tomorrow night Memphis will be in Toronto to take on the Raptors, but first the Grizzlies have to face the Celtics in Boston. Between these two games and the loss to Milwaukee Wednesday, Memphis will have seen the best the East has to offer, give or take a Philly squad, in a three game in four night stretch.
For a team struggling to find any rhythm and continuity, this is a problem. It probably won’t get better any time soon.
Here is how Memphis can be competitive against a Celtice team that has won six of their last ten, while the Grizzlies have won one of their last ten.
Move the ball
In order to penetrate one of the NBA’s strongest defenses (5th in the NBA in defensive rating) the Grizzlies must depend on one another to get open lanes to the basket. In the absence of an elite creator off the dribble like, say, a Kyrie Irving, Memphis has to swing the ball and allow passing to make up for their off the handle deficiencies. Dribble penetration and multiple subsequent passes after that attack of the rim will pressure Boston’s defensive rotations and give the poor Memphis offense open looks.
What the Grizzlies do with them will be up to them. But the ball moves faster than any dribbling Memphis player. Pass, pass, pass.
Win in the trenches
The Memphis Grizzlies have three bigs who, in theory, can play at varying high levels throughout the game - Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol, and JaMychal Green off the bench. If Memphis hopes to win this game some how, these three all need to make an impact on both ends of the floor against a Boston front court that is most certainly not weak, but is more susceptible to being taken advantage of than say a Kyrie Irving or a sixth man Gordon Hayward. Grizzlies fans say all the time they want Jaren to be a focal point - this would be a great night to try to emphasize his skill set and get him rolling early.
The Boston bigs won this matchup last time out. The Grizzlies need to win this battle to win the game.
Is it possible the Grizzlies win the game? Sure. It’s also possible I win the Powerball any time I buy a ticket. Barring a complete Celtics catastrophe, Memphis will lose this game by double digits. They simply don’t have the roster or coaching acumen to hang with a Boston team playing to its capabilities, as they are closer to doing now than they were to start the season.
Boston 107, Memphis 95