WHEN: 9:00 PM CT
WHERE: Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Questionable, shoulder), Kyle Anderson (Doubtful, heel), Brandon Clarke (Out, oblique), Ja Morant (Out, back)
UTAH: Mike Conley (Questionable, hamstring), Juwan Morgan (Questionable, knee)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Tyus Jones, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
UTAH: Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdonavic, Jeff Green, Rudy Gobert
Cue the tribute videos as Jae Crowder and Grayson Allen make their first trip back to Utah after being traded to the Grizzlies for Mike Conley over the summer. Okay, maybe the Grizzlies trip to Utah won’t be quite as dramatic as the two Jazz trips to Memphis but the crowd reaction for Jae Crowder should still be pretty cheerful tonight. After splitting the series 1-1 in Memphis, both the Jazz and Grizzlies will look to get a leg up in the season series for tonight’s first matchup in Utah.
Both teams will be looking to get out of a slump as the Jazz have lost 5 out of their last 6 while the Grizzlies have lost 8 of their last 9. While the wins and losses may not matter as much to the Grizzlies, the Jazz will be looking to gain some ground and solidify a spot as a top 4 seed in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies would still like to get a win too, after being painfully close to a win a handful of times over their slump. Here’s are a few keys to tonight’s game:
The Fight Down Low
The Jonas Valanciunas-Rudy Gobert matchup could determine the game for both teams. Valanciunas has averaged 16 points and 12.5 rebounds vs. the Jazz so far this season and has been able to match Gobert’s physicality down low. Gobert has been even more effect, averaging 18 points and 15 rebounds against the Grizzlies this season. With Brandon Clarke out and Bruno Caboclo being a terrible matchup against Gobert, the Grizzlies will need Valanciunas to try and match what Gobert brings to the table down low. Rebounding will be especially crucial, and a team effort, for the Grizzlies as it’s been an issue all season and particularly irked Taylor Jenkins 8 days ago when the Jazz came back to defeat the Grizzlies.
The Bench Battle
The Jazz have one of the worst scoring benches in the league, while the Grizzlies bench is just outside the top 10 in bench scoring. The Grizzlies starters will have their hands full with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, so the bench will need to step up when those two are taking a break. More importantly, the Grizzlies have an internal bench battle going on themselves. With Ja Morant among others out due to injury, Taylor Jenkins has experimented with his bench. De’Anthony Melton started the second half of Wednesday night’s game in place of Dillon Brooks and essentially took Marko Guduric’s minutes as Guduric did not play after his first 5 minute stint. Grayson Allen has stepped up and been a consistent hustle guy for the Grizzlies in return from his injury, while Dillon Brooks has remained mostly inconsistent.
With Tyus Jones also struggling, do we see his minutes take a hit in favor of Melton? Watching Jenkins bench rotation could have an impact on tonight, as well as the immediate future of the rotations.
The Jazz are usually incredible at home and have much more talent than the Grizzlies do. However, the Grizzlies have done a good job of holding their own against the Jazz so far this season. Things are a little less interesting from a fan standpoint with both Ja and potentially Mike Conley out but it still figures to be an intriguing game. Barring a hot shooting night from a guy like Dillon Brooks, the Grizzlies just don’t have enough offensive firepower to compete with the Jazz.
Jazz 115, Grizzlies 100
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