WHEN: 5:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Golden State: Kevon Looney (abdomen—OUT), D’Angelo Russell (shoulder-PROBABLE)
Projected Starting Lineups:
Memphis: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
Golden State: Ky Bowman, D’Angelo Russell, Glenn Robinson III, Draymond Green, Willie Cauley-Stein
The Memphis Grizzlies are a good basketball team.
Of course, that hasn’t always been the case this year; they are five games under .500 after all. And it’s not simply because they’re on a hot streak after winning five of their last six and defeating the San Antonio Spurs last Friday to take sole possession of the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
No, the Grizzlies are a good basketball team because they have legitimately had one of the best offenses in NBA history over the last month and a half.
To be sure, this level of historical excellence on the offensive end is most likely not going to hold. But the sample size is large enough to indicate that a) Taylor Jenkins is an offensive mastermind and b) the Grizzlies have become a consistently good team that can beat anyone on any given night.
And they are certainly more than good enough to beat a slumping and inferior Golden State Warriors team, who have lost seven in a row entering tonight’s contest. But as evidenced by the Warriors’ victory in FedexForum back in November, you can’t afford to take any team for granted in the NBA.
Here are a few areas of focus for tonight.
- Defending D’Angelo: It does not come as a shock that this depleted version of the Warriors struggles in every facet of the game, especially on the offensive end. The Warriors are dead last in the league in offensive rating and have relatively few legitimate NBA shot-creators and shot-makers among their guards and wings. So it obviously cannot be overstated how much they rely on an all-star guard in D’Angelo Russell, who’s averaging 23.2 points and 6.0 assists, to carry the bulk of their offensive load and just make them more competitive in general. They won four of their last five when he was in the lineup and have lost their last five with him out due to injury. He is projected to make his return tonight, and if the Grizzlies defend him well, they should win the game.
- Avoiding a Letdown: On November 19th, the Warriors came into the FedexForum with just a 2-12 record, and the Grizzlies probably expected a cakewalk. However, the Warriors essentially punched them in the mouth and dealt them an embarassing 114-95 loss, giving a young team an important lesson in never taking another opponent lightly. As the Grizzlies are coming off an emotional and significant win over another playoff competitor in the Spurs, we should see tonight whether the Grizzlies have taken that past lesson to heart in what could very well be a letdown game.