WHEN: 9:00 PM CT
WHERE: Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Grayson Allen (Out, hip), Justise Winslow (Out, back)
SACRAMENTO- Alex Len (Out, hip), Jabari Parker (Questionable, shoulder), Marvin Bagley III (Out, foot), Richaun Holmes (Out, shoulder)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS- Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
SACRAMENTO- De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica, Harry Giles II
The Grizzlies return from action after the All-Star Break with a 4 game road trip that kicks off in Sacramento against the Kings. Though the Grizzlies have a 4 game lead on the 8th spot in the Western Conference standings, tonight’s game almost feels like a must win considering the remaining 3 games of the road trip are against top 5 teams in the Western Conference, including both L.A. teams (the Clippers and Lakers).
Sacramento hasn’t had the success they had hoped they would this season after being surprisingly competitive last year. They’ve dealt with injuries, front office drama, and eventually traded nearly all of their free agent additions from last off-season. Still, the Kings have some solid young talent that will make the Grizzlies have to earn a win on the road.
What will it take for the Grizzlies to start off their big road trip with a win? Let’s take a look.
Win the battle down low
Due to injuries and trades, the Kings have almost no depth in the front court. It remains to be seen what the post-deadline rotation will be for the Kings, but at least for tonight it figures to feature a lot of Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica and Harry Giles III down low with maybe a little bit of Jabari Parker. That isn’t ideal for the Kings as they go up against Jonas Valanciunas, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke. Just last week the Grizzlies played the Trail Blazers who also lacked depth in the paint, and the Grizzlies outscored them 76-34 in the paint. Look for Valanciunas to bully whoever is guarding him in the post, while Brandon Clarke and JJJ can dominate whoever the Kings put in front of them. The Grizzlies should also be able to get some mismatches in the pick-and-roll, getting Ja some easy looks at the basket as well. Simply put, the Kings don’t have the depth there to keep up with the Grizzlies.
Who wins the PG Battle
Both the Kings and Grizzlies have two of the more exciting young point guards in the NBA. Morant has gotten all the national attention thanks in large part to the success he has led the Grizzlies to. Still, Fox is no slouch despite the Kings being overlooked this season. In the last matchup, a Kings win, Fox went off for 27 points, 9 assists and 5 steals. Morant countered with a 23 point, 7 assist game but committed 7 turnovers. Both guards figure to put up high-scoring, high assists numbers tonight but Morant will have to take better care of the ball for the Grizzlies to win.
The Kings have a solid young core in Fox, Bogdanovic, and Hield but they just don’t have the depth needed to compete with a deep Grizzlies squad that has Jenkins regularly feature 11 players in his rotation. Especially with the injuries in the frontcourt to Marvin Bagley III and Richaun Holmes, the Grizzlies should be able to bully themselves to a win and start off their post All-Star Break stretch with a win.
Grizzlies 110 Kings 95