WHEN: 2:30 PM CT
WHERE: Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Jae Crowder (Questionable, ankle)
L.A. CLIPPERS: Patrick Beverley (Out, wrist), Paul George (Doubtful, hamstring)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
L.A. CLIPPERS: Landry Shamet, Kawhi Leonard, Maurice Harkless, Patrick Peterson, Ivica Zubac
There’s nothing wrong with the afternoon delight that is matinee NBA basketball.
The Memphis Grizzlies, coming off a tough road loss to the struggling Sacramento Kings, likely will be excited to get back on the court a few hours earlier than normal. The team pulled a real Jekyll and Hyde in that contest - the first and third quarters were as good as Memphis has played all season, and the second and fourth quarters were the worst. The Kings were hungry for a win, and De’Aaron Fox dominated down the stretch of the game flexing both his skill and his experience, but whenever you have the leads that the Grizzlies did (20 points at one point) you should win the game.
It doesn’t always work out that way, of course.
Today Memphis is in L.A. taking on a Clippers team missing two starters. Even considering that, however, the Kawhi Leonard Clips are a force to be reckoned with because of their depth. Any team that can bring Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell off the bench has an embarrassment of riches at their disposal.
How can the Grizzlies hang with the title contending Clippers?
The Jaren and Ja Show
With Patrick Beverley and Paul George missing this game more than likely, the Clippers lineup - while still formidable - will be “weaker” defensively at spots where the Grizzlies can theoretically exploit them. L.A. has run a good bit of zone defense this season, taking advantage of their length and athleticism and forcing teams to take the shots the Clippers want them to take. But with George and Beverley - two of the team’s top defenders - out, the defensive schemes will look a bit different.
Enter Morant and Jackson Jr., who are both capable of taking over games for stretches even at this early stage of their respective careers. The key will be for these spurts to stick in terms of playing L.A. even the rest of the times that Jaren and Ja either cool off or are out of the game. Shamet and Patterson/JaMychal Green are good players. They’re not Beverley and George. There’s possibility there.
The Clippers are a title contender for a reason. They are deep, they are well coached by Doc Rivers, and they are committed to being as prepared for the playoffs as possible health wise. That perhaps could work to the Grizzlies advantage - L.A probably isn’t thinking too much about Memphis as a threat, which would be a mistake considering the Grizzlies are essentially a .500 club the last month. They’re capable of making this game closer than it should be...
At least for a little while. Look for Memphis to hang around for a bit, but for Kawhi and crew to run away when opportunity rises.
L.A. Clippers 118, Memphis 110