WHERE: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina
WHEN: 6:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Grayson Allen (Out, Left Ankle)
Charlotte- Nicolas Batum (Out, Finger)
MEMPHIS- Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
Charlotte- Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, Dwayne Bacon, PJ Washington, Cody Zeller
Ten games into the season, it is clear the Memphis Grizzlies have plenty of flaws throughout their young roster. However, they also have a few clear strengths. One of those strengths has been productive passing and ball movement.
On Monday night in San Antonio, the Grizzlies produced 32 assists. 23 of those came in the first and third quarters. The Grizzlies scored 69 points in those quarters, and outscored the Spurs by 21. The offensive chemistry the Grizzlies displayed was the difference in the game. The Spurs weakness is their interior defense, and Taylor Jenkins and his staff made it a priority to move the ball until the Grizzlies could get a good look inside.
The Grizzlies have had 30 or more assists in four games this season, and are 3-1 in those games. In 40 quarters of action this season, Memphis has produced seven or more assists 21 times. They have outscored their opponents 673-597 in those 21 quarters. The Grizzlies scored more points than their opponents in 14 of these quarters, and averaged 32 points per quarter. In other words, when the Grizzlies produce seven or more assists multiple times in a game, their chances to win improve significantly.
Overall, the Grizzlies are currently seventh in the NBA in assists, averaging 26.4 per game. This is a key statistic to watch against the Hornets, as Charlotte is currently 28th in the league in opponent’s assists allowed. If Memphis can successfully execute a similar plan as the one that worked in San Antonio, focusing on ball movement and finding good shots in the paint, they should be in a good position to win tonight.
While they are 4-6,Charlotte has produced a few surprises on their roster, none bigger than Devonte’ Graham. Graham is averaging 17.9 points and 7.6 assists per game, and is currently in the Top 10 of assists and three pointers made on the season. Alongside the continued development of Cody Zeller and the stellar play of rookie PJ Washington, Charlotte is more competitive than many anticipated.
This arguably is the Grizzlies’ best chance at a win for the rest of November. Here are a few ways to ensure the victory is earned against the Hornets.
Unleash Morant- While it has only been a week, it seems like it has been an eternity since Ja Morant had a relevant performance for Memphis. Between struggles against Orlando and San Antonio plus sitting out against Dallas, Morant has had a tough stretch in recent days. While stretches like this are certainly expected, the Grizzlies must make it a priority to feature Morant early and often tonight.
Limit Threes- The Hornets are 10th in the NBA in 3PFG%, while Memphis is currently 27th. The Hornets have seven players who average at least one made three per game, while Memphis has five. Graham and Rozier are averaging five made threes as a duo per night. The Grizzlies are at a significant disadvantage in terms of three point production, so they must make perimeter defense a high priority.
One way that Memphis can limit Charlotte’s three point production is by forcing turnovers. The Hornets average 18 turnovers a game, which is 24th in the NBA. They also allow their opponents to produce 9.6 steals per game, which is 28th in the NBA. If the Grizzlies are going to shoot and make less threes than Charlotte, they need to make up the difference by having significantly more possessions through causing turnovers.
Win the Battle of the Boards- Both the Grizzlies and the Hornets are currently in the bottom third of the league in rebounds per game. Therefore, whoever has the most rebounds likely improves their chances to win. The Grizzlies had success with the combination of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jonas Valanciunas in the fourth quarter to secure the win against the Spurs. Beyond points, both bigs must out produce the Hornets on the boards.
If Jackson Jr. and Morant can score 40 more points and the Grizzles win the battle of the boards while playing good team defense on the perimeter, it seems their chances to win are very good. After Monday’s effort, I am confident there will be a good amount of focus to ensure that happens.
Final Score- Memphis 112 Charlotte 105