WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 4:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/NBATV/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, knee), Justise Winslow (Out, hip), Jontay Porter (Out, knee), Killian Tillie (Out, hamstring), Xavier Tillman Sr. (Out, Patella)
Atlanta: Tony Snell (Out, foot), Rajon Rondo (Out, personal), Danilo Gallinari (Doubtful, foot), Clint Capela (Doubtful, Achilles)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
ATLANTA: Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins
It is an absolute shame that Ja Morant’s career night against the Spurs on Wednesday was wasted by a team loss. Morant was simply magical, scoring the second most points in a game in franchise history with 44.
We knew there was going to be a struggle without Jaren Jackson Jr and Justise Winslow to start the season, but dropping the season opener against a Spurs team that finished worse than Memphis did last season came as a shock.
The young, resilient Grizzlies will look to right the ship against the new look Atlanta Hawks facing their fair share of injuries. In the preseason, it looked as if the team defense would be an advantage for the Grizz heading into the season, but that was not the case in Game 1 as the Spurs scored 30+ in all four quarters. The Hawks also struggle mightily on defense, so this rematch from the preseason has the potential to be a shootout.
Finding the Mismatches
The Atlanta Hawks will likely be without Clint Capela for this matchup, and Jonas Valanciunas is already salivating. The great coaches and teams all do one thing on offense the same: exploit mismatches. Whether John Collins slides to the 5 or Lloyd Pierce opts to start Bruno Fernando, the first mismatch Memphis should look to dominate is down low.
When a coach has a player with the offensive talent of Trae Young, you do whatever you have to do to keep him on the floor for as many minutes as possible. The problem is that he is equally as bad on defense as he is good on offense. The only thing Coach Pierce can do is attempt to “hide” him on defense. Memphis has to find the player that is being guarded by Young and go at him all night long. There are three advantages to this: it will wear him down, could put him in foul trouble or lead to a bucket.
Finding the Flair
Part of the decision behind Grayson Allen starting over De’Anthony Melton to begin the season was not breaking up the phenomenal bench trio of Tyus Jones, Melton and Brandon Clarke. That trio needs to find their flair this game as they combined for 20 points and a -35 overall box +/-. The depth and bench is expected to be a strength for Memphis this season and a younger Hawks bench depleted with injuries would be a great place to kickstart the bench.
The Grizzlies handled the Hawks rather easily in the preseason despite losing the second matchup. Morant was masterful each game, controlling the game with ease. The Hawks have a lot of roster turnover and injuries to key players. The Grizz should have no issue scoring and will come down to their defense.
Prediction: Memphis wins 124-105
Take Memphis (-1) and a Memphis Moneyline.