WHEN: 9:00 PM CT
WHERE: Taking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Kyle Anderson (Out, shoulder), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, thigh), Avery Bradley (Out, shin), C.J. Miles (Out, foot), Dillon Brooks (Out, toe), Joakim Noah (Out, knee), Jonas Valanciunas ( Probable, Abdominal Soreness)
Phoenix: Kelly Oubre (Out, Thumb), Josh Jackson (Out, ankle), Tyler Johnson (Out, knee), T.J. Warren (Out, Ankle)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Delon Wright, Mike Conley, Justin Holiday, Bruno Caboclo, Jonas Valanciunas
PHOENIX: Devin Booker, De’Anthony Melton, Mikal Bridges, Dragan Bender, Deandre Ayton
Friday brought some unsurprising yet disappointing injury updates for the Memphis Grizzlies. Both Jaren Jackson Jr. and Kyle Anderson were confirmed to be done for the season. While the Grizzlies have been playing better overall, both Anderson and Jackson Jr. have certainly been missed. However, the most relevant injury update for the Grizzlies currently concerned Avery Bradley.
Bradley will be out another week, and after that will be reevaluated. For most teams with the Grizzlies overall record, Bradley likely would have already been shutdown for the season. However, because of the Grizzlies quest to convey, they are likely holding out hope that Bradley can again contribute to this season.
With the injuries to Miles and Bradley, the Grizzlies have lost a significant part of their offensive renaissance. The perimeter production of both players gave the Grizzlies as complete an offense as they had in years. In their absence, both Jonas Valanciunas and Mike Conley have had to raise their games to elite levels to keep the Grizzlies competitive.
Beyond the magnificent play of Conley and Valanciunas, both Bruno Caboclo and Justin Holiday have raised their games recently. Miles and Bradley combined to produce 25 points per game in their time with Memphis this season. In the five games since both went down to injuries, Holiday and Caboclo have combined for 27 points per game on 45.9% percent shooting from the field and 48.9% from three. They have combined for 4.4 threes per game as well. Both Holiday and Caboclo have certainly improved their games in a hurry when the Grizzlies needed it most.
Regardless of the source, Memphis has needed every bit of its recent offensive production to maintain its hope to convey. That trend will certainly need to continue tonight as the Grizzlies head to Phoenix to face the Suns. On paper, the Suns arguably seem to be the best chance at a win the Grizzlies have remaining on their roster. The fact that Phoenix has lost five straight should add further confidence to the Grizzlies chances tonight. However, despite their recent swoon, Devin Booker may be playing the best basketball of his career. In his last two games, Booker has scored 59 and 50 points, respectively. While the Grizzlies have proven they can withstand that type of offensive outburst recently, it leaves little room for error.
With the knowledge that the offense must be at the top of its game, here a few ways that can be accomplished:
Grind with the Guards.
This season, the Suns rank in the bottom of the NBA in assists and steals allowed allowed per game. The focus on these specific stats mean that if you can feature effective and disciplined guards, it gives you a significant advantage against the Suns. The Grizzlies have a good recipe for success in Delon Wright and Mike Conley. Especially if Conley can get good looks of the ball and Wright can limit his turnovers, the Grizzlies should move the ball with ease to find offensive success.
The Suns allow the second highest amount of steals and free throws per game. They also allow the highest amount of offensive rebounds in the league. This emphasizes a lack of awareness on the part of the Suns, and indicates a logical need for the Grizzlies to be aggressive. This means getting the ball inside to Valanciunas, crashing the boards, and anticipating passing lanes on defense. The Suns can be sloppy at times. If the Grizzlies can be prepared, they can take advantage and find themselves with an early lead.
I feel the Grizzlies have a good chance to win this game if they can stay disciplined. As a hot take, I will predict not only do the Grizzlies keep Booker under 50, but a Memphis Grizzlies player will out score him tonight.
Grizzlies 103 Suns 95