WHERE: American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas
WHEN: 7:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Kyle Anderson (Out, shoulder), Ivan Rabb (day-to-day, heel), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, quad), Dillon Brooks (Out, toe)
DALLAS: J.J. Barea (Out, Achilles), Kristaps Porzingis (Out, knee), Trey Burke (day-to-day, illness), Tim Hardaway Jr. (day-to-day, illness)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Avery Bradley, Justin Holiday, Bruno Caboclo, Jonas Valanciunas
DALLAS: Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Luka Doncic, Dwight Powell, Dirk Nowitzki
The Memphis Grizzlies travel to the great state of Texas on Saturday night to face the Dallas Mavericks. Both teams have struggled this season, with rookies on both sides being the saving grace of hope. Stand out rookie Luka Doncic continues his tear through the NBA, averaging 20.9 points, 5.7 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies franchise rookie, Jaren Jackson Jr. will not play and is likely shut down for the season due to a quad injury.
Dallas actually stands in the way of Memphis conveying their first round pick to the Boston Celtics - the Mavs have won just enough games to keep Memphis from falling out of the bottom eight teams in the league. But Dallas has struggled of late. Before beating the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night, the Mavs had dropped six straight. Memphis has played better basketball recently, but have struggled with consistency in the second half of the season.
This matchup will be a good game of young talent and players looking to establish themselves in the NBA. Memphis will also face Dallas two more times after this game to wrap up the season, a home-and-home scenario of games in early April. The Grizzlies defeated the Mavs soundly in the first matchup, 98-88 in November, but both rosters look much different this time around.
For Memphis, scoring has always been an issue, but recently that script has been flipped. The Grizzlies have scored 106+ in six straight games, but have also given up 105+ and lost five of those six. The scoring is up because the team’s pace has increased, something that should excite fans. But with the pace increasing, the attention on the defensive end has lacked, creating easy buckets for the opponent.
Dallas has two lethal scorers in Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. (assuming he plays), those two can create their own shot while making those around them better. If Memphis isn’t committed to team defense, those two will run the Grizzlies out of the gym. Dallas averages just under eight points more than Memphis on offense, and that number will go up with increased pace.
With the younger guys that the Grizz are putting on the floor, scoring has come in a number of different ways, namely with team basketball and assists. That has increased the scoring significantly, but sticking together on defense is just as important. Watch for the defensive chemistry of a Memphis lineup that hasn’t spent much time together.
I think we are all here to watch Luka solidify himself as a legit NBA scorer, so if nothing else, stayed tuned to watch him. Its always fun to see Dirk Nowitzki hobble up and down the floor, so we also get to enjoy that too.
As for Memphis, they are playing better basketball. The win column isn’t reflecting that, but the young guys are playing well together and the team is more fun to watch. This will be a close game and Memphis struggles on the road. I see Dallas wrangling Mike Conley with multiple looks on defense and shutting the role players around him down. Unfortunately, Dallas takes this one at home.
Mavericks 108, Grizzlies 97