WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Chandler Parsons (Out, return from injury)
DETROIT: Henry Ellenson (Doubtful, ankle)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
DETROIT: Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown, Reggie Bullock, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond
So who do you think the Memphis Grizzlies are?
Are they a serious playoff contender in a loaded western conference? Are they a crumbling team whose hot start was simply a case of mistaken identity? Is it possible they’re a bit of both, resulting in a squad scratching to hang around .500 all season long?
The answer should be clearer by the end of January, a month in which Memphis will have nine home games and the opportunity to solidify themselves in the postseason hunt out west. As tough as December was, and it definitely wasn’t easy, January includes a lot of winnable games. For a team with the offensive woes of the Grizzlies there are no simple games, of course, but any time the ball gets tossed up in FedExForum Memphis has a chance, especially against comparable talent.
Tonight is one of those nights. The Detroit Pistons, on the second night of a back to back after playing last night in Milwaukee against the Bucks, are a below average squad that the Grizzlies should be able to compete with. They have talent, but pound for pound with Memphis there are comparable pieces. It should result in a good game.
How can Memphis start 2019 with a W?
Challenge Blake Griffin
Griffin is having an All-Star level season for Detroit, scoring 24.7 points per game while grabbing 8.7 rebounds and shooting 36.4% from three for the season before last nights contest in Milwaukee. His game also involves facilitation - Blake leads Detroit at 5.2 assists per game - and under new Pistons Head Coach Dwane Casey he has fit nicely in to Detroit’s team defensive concepts at times.
Grizzlies fans are very familiar with Blake from his days with the Clippers, and while it is fun to give Griffin a hard time there is no denying the guy can play. The good news is, between the skills of Jaren Jackson Jr. and the motor of JaMychal Green there should be constant pressure on Griffin on both ends of the floor. Make him work on the glass, defensively in the post, on the perimeter against JJJ off the dribble...take as much energy away from his offense as possible.
Attack Reggie Jackson
Coach Casey is a terrific defensive coach, and Detroit at times is very effective on that end of the floor. One player struggles still as a defender, though - Reggie Jackson has a team-worst 112 defensive rating. He isn’t playing a ton of minutes per game - 28.4 as of now - but when he is out there, he can be a liability. Thankfully for Memphis, their best scorer doubles as their point guard.
Mike Conley has to consistently be aggressive against Jackson. With Marc Gasol lining up against the big and gifted Andre Drummond, there will be plenty of times where the best shot is either a Conley attempt or a pass out to the perimeter as Jackson’s teammates collapse on Mike to help him once he loses Conley off of a pick or screen. Whether its by points or (hopefully) assists, this game should have Conley’s finger prints all over it.
Memphis once again makes it far more interesting than their fans would like, but Mike Conley leads the way and showcases why he should make his first All-Star Game next month as he lifts the Grizzlies once again.
Memphis 102, Detroit 98
Stats provided by basketball-reference.com