WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
UTAH: Dante Exum (Out, ankle), Raul Neto (Out, hamstring), Ricky Rubio (Doubtful, hip), Ekpe Udoh (Doubtful, back)
MEMPHIS: Avery Bradley (Probable, ankle), Justin Holiday (Probable, neck), Kyle Anderson (Out, shoulder), Dillon Brooks (Out, toe), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, thigh)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
UTAH: Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Jar Crowder, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Avery Bradley, Justin Holiday, Bruno Caboclo, Jonas Valanciunas
After a thrilling win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, the Grizzlies got a couple of days off at home before tonight’s matchup against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz-Grizzlies games have been all solid games so far this season, with the Grizzlies leading the season series 2-1. The Grizzlies are a much different team now than they were the last time the played the Jazz back on November 2nd. Still, the style of play of both teams means this game will likely be a slow, physical game that old school basketball fans will love. Conveying the pick is still a realistic goal for the Grizzlies, given the teams ahead of them in the standings are more inclined to tank than the Grizzlies are. Here’s a couple keys to tonight’s showdown the Grizzlies will need to focus on to keep Tuesday night’s momentum going.
Keep the Train Going
Mike Conley, the Conductor, went off for a career high 40 points in Tuesday’s win over the Trail Blazers. Conley will need to keep the hot shooting going if the Grizz want to have any chance of beating the Jazz. Conley will likely have some extra motivation for tonight’s game as the Jazz were the team most rumored to be interested in a trade for the Grizzlies captain. Ultimately, the Jazz opted not to give in to the high expectations the Grizzlies set for a return on Mike. If Mike can have another game like Tuesday and make the Jazz second guess their decision not to trade for him, the Grizzlies will have a good chance of keeping things close against this Jazz team.
Be the Bullies on the Block
While most of the teams in the NBA have embraced the pace and space style of play, the Jazz still feature Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert down low in their starting lineup. Though they don’t play too many minutes together, the Favors-Gobert tandem sets the tone for the game for the Jazz. The Grizzlies big man rotation, specifically Valanciunas and Joakim Noah, will need to match the physicality that Favors and Gobert bring. As great as Donovan Mitchell is, the Jazz play well when Gobert plays well. Frustrating and disengaging Gobert from the game could go a long way in a potential Grizzlies win.
The Grizzlies wound up winning Tuesday night’s match-up against the Blazers, but it’s hard to forget just how poor they looked throughout the beginning of the game. The Jazz are a better match-up for the Grizzlies compared to the Blazers, but I’m not sure if Mike will be able to replicate Tuesday night’s great performance. With the Jazz trying to stay in the race to get home court in the first round of the playoffs, they’ll need to win games like tonight and I think that extra motivation helps them pull out a relatively close game.
Jazz 105 Grizzlies 95