Who: Memphis Grizzlies (28-41) vs Washington Wizards (29-40)
Where: Capital One Arena in Washington D.C.
When: 6:00 PM CT
How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Memphis: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, thigh), Dillon Brooks (Out, toe), Kyle Anderson (Out, shoulder)
Washington: John Wall (Out, heel), Dwight Howard (Out, back), Tomas Satoransky (Probable, concussion), Sam Dekker (Probable, back) Jordan McRae (Probable, achilles)
Memphis: Mike Conley, Avery Bradley, Justin Holiday, Bruno Caboclo, Jonas Valanciunas
Washington: Tomas Satoransky, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green, Bobby Portis
In the race to convey for this Memphis Grizzlies team, this is perhaps one of the most important games left this season. The Wizards are a game ahead of the Grizzlies in the overall standings, making the this matchup a must win for Memphis.
Both teams are coming off a loss in their last game, but their losses were vastly different. The Grizzlies inexplicably got run off the court by the Hawks while the Wizards took an expected loss to a team in playoff contention, the Charlotte Hornets.
While the Wizards are without star John Wall and big man Dwight Howard, this front office made some moves at the deadline to put something at least competitive around Bradley Beal. If you have paid any attention to the Wizards the last few years, they actually play better without John Wall more often that not (there is more ball movement and team play.)
The biggest thing working against the Grizzlies in this all important game is that the Wiz are very good at home (21-13) while the Grizzlies are very bad on the road (10-24). Both teams are 5-5 in their last ten, so the match up should be fairly even as far as recent play goes.
What 2 Watch 4
Jonas Valanciunas vs Bobby Portis
Without Dwight Howard’s size, the Wizards have no one, I repeat no one, that will be able to body up Jonas when he gets on the block. In the majority of his games for Memphis thus far, JV has been an absolute bully in the post and looked near unstoppable at times. I expect the Grizzlies to pound inside on Portis early.
Portis will be his own mismatch on the offensive end for Jonas. Bobby has the ability to knock down the three ball and JV hasn't always looked willing or comfortable to extend his defense to the perimeter. The goal should be to attack around the rim and see if you can get Portis in foul trouble to force him out of the game.
Same Faces, New Place
This will be the first time the Grizzlies have seen the Wizards since the trade deadline in a while, and this team has a different look and feel. Washington now feature the aforementioned Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, Trevor Ariza and Sam Dekker.
While Bradley Beal will be the primary focus for the Grizzlies to stop, he has capable help around him as Jeff Green, Trevor Ariza, Jabari Parker and rookie Troy Brown all scored 10+ points last game.
Speaking of Bradley Beal
Memphis is one of the teams that has had some success slowing him down, and I do mean some. He still averages 20 points per game against the Grizzlies all time but his 107 offensive rating is good for 17th overall against the other teams in the league.
If Avery Bradley and Justin Holiday can hold Beal to that 20 point range, it will force the rest of the team to step up, giving the Grizz their best chance to win.
100% of the bets so far are taking the Wizards as three point favorites. That is typical for a game viewed as a toss up, the home team getting 3 points or so for simply being the home team.
I think Valanciunas and Mike Conley will just be too much for the Wizards defense to keep in check leading Memphis to a win by the score of:
Memphis 104 Washington 100