WHEN: 5:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Brandon Clarke (Back, Questionable)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
BROOKLYN: Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Taurean Prince, Jarrett Allen
In a season where wins don’t matter, it would still be nice to secure that first win.
Two games in to the 2019-2020 campaign, the Memphis Grizzlies have yet to enjoy the spoils of victory. In both defeats, the formula has been similar - competitive basketball for a majority of the game, and then collapses that led to their eventual demise. That’s just one common thread - in both games, the perimeter defense struggled. In both games, Jonas Valanciunas had issues and the young bigs beside him (Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke) shined. In both games, young Ja Morant showed flashes of brilliance and glimpses of reasons why patience will be required with his game.
Expect more of the same for...well...how much time do you got?
The Brooklyn Nets, with Kyrie Irving leading the crew until Kevin Durant returns next season, have the potential to be offensively explosive and defensively stifling, depending on the moment and the match-ups. The Nets are primed for playoff competition this year and beyond, and have a good mix of effective veterans and talented young players.
Memphis, just in case you forgot, is paying their highest salaried player to not play for them.
Two teams. Two different directions.
How can the Grizzlies steal their first win of the season against a superior Nets team?
Play it cool, Dillon Brooks
It is amazing how quickly the tides can turn regarding a player.
Two years ago, Grizzlies fans were excited about the steal that was Dillon Brooks. A scorer, a gamer up to the challenge defensively (even when he was overmatched more often than not), a lone bright spot in a truly lost season.
Many calls for his starting spot are already surfacing, two games in to the season.
It’s premature. Dillon certainly needs to play within himself - he forces his shot and is not allowing the game to come to him. But to look at the Grizzlies and say “yeah, Dillon, that’s the issue” is underselling the overall flaws this young roster still has. Of course Dillon Brooks isn’t a starting wing on a good team. But, spoiler alert, the Grizzlies aren’t a good basketball team. When the options are the “veteran” Brooks, the inconsistent Grayson Allen, and the rookie Marko Guduric, you’re going to see what Dillon can do next to Jaren and Ja.
DeAnthony Melton may well be coming, as well. He can defend, and that’s sorely needed in Memphis on the perimeter. But for the time being, Dillon Brooks needs the work to see if he’s worth future investment.
He must understand the lane he resides in, however. Stop trying to be the man. That’s not is job. Be smart with shot selection and play within scheme, and he will be just fine. We’ve seen it before.
Ja must make Kyrie work
Kyrie Irving is averaging 38 points per game.
You shouldn’t be surprised.
What may surprise you, however, is that Kyrie through two games is averaging 4.5 fouls per game. That is, of course, an extremely low sample size, but it is (within that muddy window) a view in to a potential opening for Memphis to keep this thing close.
Irving is elite as a scorer, and expecting Ja Morant (or any current Grizzlies player) to keep up with him is unrealistic. But where Morant is already near-elite as a creator off the dribble can be utilized to try to limit the Kyrie effect. Running plenty of pick and rolls and other actions that would threaten Kyrie off the dribble and force him to work hard on the defensive end of the floor could zap some energy and also get Irving in to foul trouble, forcing him to sit early and cut in to Kyrie’s minutes.
Of course, Spencer Dinwiddie is no slouch and is capable of cooking Memphis as well. But Spencer is not Kyrie. The probability of keeping this thing close is higher if Kyrie is limited, either by his wind or being on the bench after too many fouls on Morant drives to the basket.
Memphis will continue the current trend. Look for solid performances from the roster for the first 2.5 quarters or so. Then, Kyrie Irving and company will close...and close hard. The first win of the season will have to wait.
Brooklyn 117, Memphis 106