The Memphis Grizzlies schedule is now out, so we know how October-April will turn out for us. We can use the home games as avenues to hang out with friends, whether it’s on Beale Street or in the FedEx Forum. Or, we can use road games as an excuse to be anti-social and avoid all plans.
Regardless of how you use games, let’s find out what some of the Grizzly Bear Blues staff thinks of the 2019-20 schedule for the Memphis Grizzlies.
1) What home game are you looking forward to the most?
GBB ASSOCIATE EDITOR PARKER FLEMING: The November 27th matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers is what I’m looking forward to the most. By then, the Clippers would either have taken the league by storm, or they would be in the middle of a weird start — a la, the first year of the Heatles. Either way, it’ll be a great test for the Grizzlies youngsters, as the Clippers are loaded with elite talent — both from an all-around and specialist standpoint. In addition, it’ll be interesting to see how many Clipper jerseys there are, despite them being the Grizzlies’ all-time biggest rival.
GBB SENIOR STAFF WRITER BRANDON ABRAHAM: I’m most looking forward to both the Conley games in November against the Jazz. The Grizzlies and their fans have always done a great job of honoring/celebrating their former players when they return, and I’m looking forward to seeing what it will be like when Captain Clutch makes his return to Memphis.
GBB STAFF WRITER LAUREN HARVEY: The MLK game. It will be fun to see how the young core responds in one of their few nationally televised games when all the attention is understandably on Zion. And, if Ja meets expectations, it could feature the two leading rookie of the year candidates. I hope it’s the beginning of a divisional rivalry that’s exciting for years to come.
GBB STAFF WRITER EDMEMPHIS: The Grizzlies hosting the Knicks. The Knicks are my first sports love and co-favorite team. RJ Barrett will want out-perform Ja Morant, and vice versa. The Grizzlies and Knicks are in very similar situations with their point of development as well.
GBB STAFF WRITER COLIN GRIFFITH: Obvious choice is the return of Mike Conley to the Forum. It’ll be an emotional night but also a great opportunity for a young Grizzlies squad against a tough opponent with a real shot at contending. The Ja/Zion matchup for MLK day is a close second.
GBB SENIOR STAFF WRITER SHAWN COLEMAN: While the Mike Conley games early in the season obviously deserve consideration, I am most looking forward to the Marc Gasol return with the Raptors on March 28th. While it will be a long wait, it will certainly be worth it. Marc’s style of play was polarizing while in Memphis, and it seemed that he rarely got the appreciation he deserved. While one night is not nearly enough so the appreciation he deserves for his time here, it will be a magical one to experience for everyone.
2) Which month looks the most difficult?
PF: February has to be the most difficult, and seeing consecutive road games against the Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets about did it for me. In addition, they have few home games, all against opponents that’ll be jockeying for playoff position.
BA: I would have to say February or March are the most difficult month. Both months feature a lot of road games against quality competition, especially when expecting the Western Conference playoff picture to be wide open.
LH: November will be a test for a young team trying to find its legs. They play so many elite Western Conference teams that month (Utah twice, Denver, both LA teams, Houston). I don’t see them winning more than three or four games. The response by the new staff and players will be telling.
EM: The first month of the season. They’re a team with a new roster, rookie franchise player, along with a new staff and front office. Add the former with a brutal opening schedule, and you have a solid recipe for growing pains.
CG: The February slate could be a tough one for the Grizzlies. Games against playoff teams like the Lakers (twice), the Sixers, and the Rockets, as well as against playoff hopefuls like Dallas, Detroit, and Sacramento could provide a lot of tough sledding for a young Grizzlies team.
SC: February. Between early February and early March, Memphis will only play three home games in a span that lasts over a month. While the All-Star game will be mixed in, it could be a difficult stretch for such a young roster. The team will be dealing with fatigue, as many of the players will be playing more than they ever have, and there also could be the natural struggles with losing often. Overall, while it may a trying time, it also will be interesting to see how the players and coaching staff handle the situations and adjust.
3) Which month looks the least difficult?
PF: I really like March/April stretch, as — hopefully — by then, the team will find a rhythm similar to last year’s Atlanta Hawks team. They have some pretty nice matchups where they could play spoiler. In addition, the teams they’re catching in April could either be lottery locks or squads resting for the playoffs, which could translate into some random wins.
BA: November is probably the best and easiest month for the Grizzlies as they have 10 home games and just 4 in the road. With such a young team, having so many early home games could help them get off to a better than expected start to the season.
LH: I think December has more winnable games than any other month. That said the beauty of this season is it isn’t about wins or losses but development. If Ja looks good and Jaren is making progress fans should count the month (and the season) as a win no matter the record.
EM: Of course, the last month of the season. By this time guys will know their roles. Most of the opposing teams that are contending will rest starters and take the foot off the gas going into the playoffs. Also the chemistry should be considerably stronger from the front office to the last player on the roster.
CG: If the Grizzlies are going to have an easy month, it’ll be in December. Multiple games against the now-tanking Thunder, the Cavs and other fellow bottom-feeders like Phoenix and Chicago could give them a boost at the end of the calendar year.
SC: December. After a two-week stretch to end November in which Memphis will play seven straight opponents who should easily make the playoffs, the Grizzlies shift to a part of the schedule that is a bit easier to navigate. Many of the younger players should start hitting some sort of groove as they develop their games.
Against weaker competition, the players should be able to get more consistent and confident with their games. Also, the fact that the Grizzlies will be home with their families for Christmas and New Year’s is a nice benefit.
4) What individual player matchup are you looking forward to the most?
PF: I’m looking forward to the four matchups we get with Ja Morant and De’Aaron Fox. Both players could easily be two of the top floor generals in basketball over the next decade, and they both can take over a game with blazing speed and jaw-dropping athleticism. It’ll be a great first glimpse at one of the next great point guard battles.
BA: I’m extremely interested in the four Russell Westbrook-Ja Morant matchups we get this season with Westbrook in Houston. Ja has a similar game to Westbrook, and it will be intriguing to watch the two go head to head this season.
LH: Ja and Trae Young. It’s unrealistic to expect Ja to perform well against the Curry and Westbrooks of the league but I do want to see how he does against other young, developing guards. Ja and Trae are both elite passers with an athletic big to compliment them and I want to see that chess match.
EM: Jaren Jackson Jr vs. Anthony Davis. This is a great game to send a message with many eyes watching and THE best player in the league at Jaren’s position. One should be determined to put the league on notice.
CG: My most interesting matchup is probably seeing how Brandon Clarke and the other Memphis bigs stack is up against Zion in their first meeting. They were the two most efficient players in college last year, and Clarke has the best combination of tools and athleticism to guard Zion on the team. I’d also love to see him have a big game on national tv to prove he was a steal as the no. 21 pick.
SC: Jaren Jackson Jr. and Zion Williamson. This could be a match-up that determines the division for the next decade. While there games are different, both of the potential to significantly impact the game early and often. The Southwest Division could be the most fun division to watch in the entire NBA for the next several years. While many other match-ups are intriguing as hell, the combined talent between these two makes it the most anticipated one for me.
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