WHERE: FedExForum - Memphis, TN
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast / 92.9 ESPN
Memphis Grizzlies: Garrett Temple (PROBABLE, right heel soreness), Kyle Anderson (OUT, left ankle sprain), Dillon Brooks (OUT, right toe injury), Chandler Parsons (OUT, In Los Angeles)
Sacramento Kings: Nemanja Bjelica (DAY-TO-DAY, back), De’Aaron Fox (DAY-TO-DAY, toe), Zach Randolph (OUT, just chillin’)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Justin Holiday, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
SACRAMENTO: De’Aaron Fox (Yogi Ferrell, if injured), Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley III, Willie Cauley-Stein
The Memphis Grizzlies are continuing their downward spiral into the NBA’s basement, dropping their past 7 seven games and 12 of their last 13. It’s getting chaotic, as Robert Pera has placed both Mike Conley and Marc Gasol on the block, signaling that the organization is preparing to reset and build around their prized rookie, Jaren Jackson Jr. It wouldn’t be completely surprising if the team is close to brand new after the trade deadline.
Meanwhile, the Sacramento Kings are still looking to jockey for position in the ultra competitive Western Conference. They’re sitting at 24-24, which is only good for 10th in the conference. They’ve positioned themselves as buyers this trade season, but surely they don’t do much to damage their young core.
So far in this season series, the home teams have pulled out the wins, as the Kings are up 2-1. In both losses, the Grizzlies held a double-digit lead and soiled it. Could they have some luck on their home court to even the season series?
Major Key Alert
The Memphis Grizzlies must do a better job of defending the 3-point line if they want to win this game. Since Thanksgiving, the Grizzlies have given up the fourth-most 3’s per game (12.1) at the highest clip (38.4).
Meanwhile, the Sacramento Kings are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the entire league. They sit in the top 10 in 3’s made per game (11.6) and in the top 3 in 3-point percentage (38.8).
So yeah, that’s a recipe for disaster.
The Sacramento Kings’ 3-point attack is spearheaded by the sweeting-shooting Buddy Hield, who’s quickly become one of the most underrated players in the league and one of the best shooters in the state of California. He’s averaging 20.2 points and shooting a sizzling 45.5 percent from 3-point range on 7.4 attempts per game — those are Splash Brother numbers. If the Grizzlies aren’t careful, Buddy can have a party from downtown.
Hield surely isn’t alone though, as Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelicia can be flamethrowers from downtown as well. Bogdanovic averages 15.4 points and shoots 37.2 percent from downtown on 5.2 attempts, and he’s 5-11 (45.5%) from there in 2 games against Memphis this year). Bjelicia was out last game with an injury, but he’s another huge boost for the Kings, as his floor-spacing (41.3% on 3.4 attempts per game) at the 4 opens up so many lanes for De’Aaron Fox to attack the paint.
The Grizzlies are without Kyle Anderson and Dillon Brooks against one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league. Hopefully, Garrett Temple and Justin Holiday are on their A-game defensively.
Matchup of the Night
Because of Bjelicia’s absence the other night, Kings fans finally got what they’ve been wanting: Marvin Bagley III in the starting lineup. In the rookie’s first start, Bagley notched a double-double, tallying 22 points and 11 rebounds against Pascal Siakam, one of the best defenders at the power forward position.
If Bjelicia is out once more, we’re in for a treat, as we’ll get a heavy dosage of Marvin Bagley vs. Jaren Jackson Jr. — but probably JaMychal Green.
These two guys highlight the future of the league and its big men, as they both flash an unique skillset.
Bagley reminds me of a modernized old-school big man. He’s an elite athlete with great mobility that does most of his damage inside the 3-point arc. His explosiveness and skillset remind me of Amare Stoudemire.
Meanwhile, Jackson’s two-way potential is jaw-dropping. He’s shown flashes of becoming a three-level scorer, as he can attack in the post, off the dribble, and from deep. On defense, he can make shooters uncomfortable on the perimeter, and he can alter shots at the rim. All of which reminds me of Kevin Garnett.
It’s a great matchup that gives a glimpse of the future, so prepare to be amazed.
The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the league’s worst at defending the perimeter, while the Kings are one of the elite 3-point shooting teams. I don’t like this matchup at all, so that’s why they’re going to win.
Grizzlies - 108, Kings - 103.
Stats found on basketball-reference.com