WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Chandler Parsons (Out, Feelings); Dillon Brooks (Out, Toe); Kyle Anderson (Out, shoulder); Joakim Noah (Doubtful, Heel); Yuta Watanabe (Probable, Ankle); Jonas Valanciunas (Questionable, Thumb); Tyler Dorsey (Questionable, Illness)
NEW ORLEANS-E’Twaun Moore (Questionable, Quad); Elfrid Payton (Questionable, Ankle); Trevon Bluiett (Out, Thumb); Jahlil Okafor (Questionable, Ankle)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Jevon Carter, Justin Holliday, Jaren Jackson Jr. Ivan Rabb
NEW ORLEANS- Jrue Holiday, Frank Jackson, Darius Miller, Kenrich Williams, Anthony Davis
The Grizzlies are coming into tonight’s game with a different look. Most of their newly acquired players will be playing for the first time in Memphis gear. The New Orleans Pelicans and Anthony Davis will be coming into town for another battle. However, it will not be the Davis vs. Gasol matchup we are used to seeing.
Memphis is coming into this game having lost their last game to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. The Pelicans played just last night in a win at home against the Timberwolves. It was Anthony Davis’s first game back since the rumors ran rampant after he asked for a trade a few weeks ago. He scored 32 points without playing in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies are not going to have many options to slow Davis down tonight.
Without knowing much about the lineups that will be thrown out by Bickerstaff, it will be hard to judge the head to head battles for this game. The new Grizzlies will have to find a new identity without one of their franchise cornerstones, Marc Gasol.
Here is the biggest thing to watch in tonight’s contest:
Getting to know the new guys
Tonight will be a strange night at the Forum. As mentioned, it will be the first game with all the new players acquired after the trade deadline on Thursday. Fans will be checking out the player guide multiple times trying to figure out all the new faces in Grizzlies’ uniforms. Even if you may have thought the trade deadline was a bust (as I do), it will be fun to see the new team the Grizzlies will have out there against the Pelicans. These new faces are probably not players that many of Grizz fans have been keeping up with too closely. Now it will be a great opportunity to really see these guys in action.
Avery Bradley is one player that could maybe turn his season around after having a dreadful start this year in Los Angeles. His defense has slumped and his shooting is at an all time low. We have seen him play at an All-Defense level at his time in Boston. Bradley will have a larger role with the Grizzlies to maybe get back to that level.
Delon Wright will be another interesting new piece for the Grizzlies. He is a do it all type player who has tools across the board. His stats in Toronto were nothing to write home about, but if he improves, he could be a nice piece for this team. Again, it may not be the pieces the Grizzlies should have gotten for Gasol, but this is the Grizzlies now. Of all the pieces, Delon Wright is probably the best “future asset” for the team.
With Valanciunas probably missing this one with injury, C.J. Miles will be the other new face from the Gasol trade. Miles’s only positive attribute is his three-point shooting which was at 38% the past three seasons, however, this year he shooting 31%. He has not been able to contribute anywhere else, so he slid down the rotation in Toronto. Miles will be a guy off the bench for Memphis, so the expectations are not high with him.
Another new face is Tyler Dorsey. He came from Atlanta in the Shelvin Mack trade, and he was not really worth much in the early start to his NBA career. He was an end of the bench guy with the Hawks, but he is young so maybe there is room to grow? He was a solid shooter in college with Dillon Brooks, but this season is shooting 25.6% from three…. Yes. 25 %. Dorsey will be another fringe player on the roster, so there is not much to expect from him.
Bottom line, if the Grizzlies are wanting to convey the pick to the Celtics as Chris Wallace says, the main goal is to get these players to gel quickly together. The backcourt of Mike Conley and Avery Bradley would have been one of the best in the leagues a few years back. That paired with Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson isn’t the worst starting lineup. It will be close to see if they can continue to win, and it all starts against another downtrodden team in the New Orleans Pelicans.
With all that being said, I predict the Pelicans are going to win tonight. I would not expect the new team of the Memphis Grizzlies to come out and gel quickly in their first game. It is not a bad sign since it is a new system for the guys, but you should not expect much.
Best case scenario for the Grizzlies, the guys have individual nights showing off their raw basketball talent. Conley will be happy to be back in front of the Memphis crowd after a strange last few days. If these guys can show out, the Grizzlies will have a chance.
Spread: New Orleans –(whatever the points are, hasn’t come out)
Take the Pelicans and lay the points. Unfortunately, I feel pretty good about Anthony Davis dominating this game especially if Valanciunas is still injured.
Memphis- 96, New Orleans- 105