WHERE: Scotiabank Arena (RIP the Air Canada Centre) in Toronto, Canada
WHEN: 6:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Chandler Parsons (Out, Feelings); Dillon Brooks (Out, Toe); Kyle Anderson (Out, Ankle)
TORONTO- OG Anunoby (Out, Personal); Jonas Valanciunas (Out, Thumb)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Justin Holliday, Jaren Jackson Jr, Marc Gasol
TORONTO- Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka
The road does not get any easier for the Memphis Grizzlies. After coming off a loss last night to Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics, the Grizzlies get right back into it with another road game this time against the Toronto Raptors. It is yet another difficult matchup against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Grizzlies fought hard last night, but they will likely struggle coming into this one on a back-to-back.
Memphis again fought hard matched up with the Boston Celtics, but the team did not have enough to stop the assassin like offense from Kyrie Irving. Mike Conley looked to try and carry the team, and hopefully that will carry over into this game tonight. Conley and Marc Gasol both played 36 minutes. It will be a rough back-to-back for these two. That is now four losses in a row with no end in sight….
Toronto will be nice and rested having played at home against the Suns on Thursday night. They have won eight of their last ten and are currently the second seed in the Eastern Conference. With Kawhi Leonard on their team, they have reached another level that we had not seen last year even as the team lead the East.
These two teams faced off back in late November with the Grizzlies falling at home 122-114. It was a back and forth game most of the night until the Grizzlies faltered down the stretch losing the fourth quarter 29-17. Kyle Lowry had 24 points and Fred VanVleet had 18 points off the bench. For the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol had a strong game scoring 27 points in 39 minutes alongside Conley with 20 of his own. 114 points and better defense may be a combination if they want to win this one tonight.
Here is one thing to watch in tonight’s contest:
Attack the Paint
Last night in Boston, Marc Gasol had 11 rebounds on a smaller Celtics team. He had success dominating the boards where he had his chances. Gasol understood the team he was facing and put up double digits in the rebounds category.
For tonight, Gasol needs to have that same mindset against this Raptors team which is very similar to the Celtics. The Raptors, especially without Jonas Valencuianis, play very small with Serge Ibaka in their center role. If the Grizzlies can attack this, they can have success tonight. Even as they do not rebound the ball among the best in the league, it is mostly match-up dependent for success in the paint. This is another chance for Memphis to slow the game down and bring back the style of bully-ball.
This will include Jaren Jackson Jr. as well. As the more traditional low post scorer on the Grizzlies, Jackson will have to exploit his physicality to score on smaller defenders. You saw just last night the success he had scoring 23 points. 16 of those points came from two-point baskets. He really has a chance to succeed again tonight against Toronto, especially with those young legs not needing many days off.
With all that being said, I predict the Raptors to win easy tonight. The Grizzlies have looked like they just run out of steam any game they are competitive in down the stretch. Granted this is one of their toughest stretches of the schedule, but the team looks spent physically. This game is coming off a road game and both aging stars of the team played 36 minutes. They had some fight for three quarters, but I do not see that repeating tonight. It just does not add up to success.
Spread: Raptors -12.5
Take the Raptors and lay the points. Unfortunately, I feel pretty sure about a blowout in this one. It sets up as a “schedule loss” so they shouldn’t feel too bad about it either.
Memphis- 101, Toronto- 126