WHEN: 7:30 PM CT
WHERE: American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Jonas Valanciunas (Questionable, knee), Grayson Allen (Out, hip), Bruno Caboclo (Out, knee)
DALLAS- JJ Barea (Questionable, ankle), Seth Curry (Questionable, knee), Luka Doncic (Out, ankle), Dwight Powell (Out, achilles)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS- Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
DALLAS- Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis,
In the middle of all the chaos surrounding Memphis with the trade deadline and all the Andre Iguodala talk, the Grizzlies do actually have to play a game of basketball. Following an ugly but impressive win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday, the Grizzlies hit the road for a 3 game road trip that starts off in Dallas. The good news: Dallas will be without MVP candidate Luka Doncic. The bad news? The Mavs are still pretty good even without Luka. The Mavs are 2-1 since Doncic went down with an ankle injury so tonight won’t be easy for a Grizzlies squad fighting to hold off the Portland Trail Blazers for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies have been playing well themselves, having won 12 of their last 15 games.
What are the keys for Memphis to pick up another big win tonight?
Limit the Latvian
Kristaps Porzingis is having a great year for the Dallas Mavericks and looks almost completely healthy after tearing his ACL with the Knicks back in February of 2018. Porzingis is averaging 17.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game for the Mavs and has stepped up with Luka out. In his two appearances since Doncic went down with the ankle injury, Porzingis has scored 35+ points and 10+ rebounds. His ability to be a force inside and out could be troublesome for Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr. Slowing down Porzingis will be crucial if the Grizzlies want to leave Dallas with a win.
Guard the arc
The Mavs are currently a top 10 team in 3-point percentage in the NBA while averaging the second most attempts in the league. The Grizzlies, although better this year than most, have never been a great shooting team. Getting in a 3-point shootout with the Mavs would not bode well for Memphis, especially after the Grizzlies shot just 2-17 from beyond the arc on Monday. They’ll need to be sure to communicate defensively and close out on open shooters. With Justin Jackson the lone Mavs rotational player shooting less than 33% from beyond the arc on the season, the 3-point defense of Memphis will be greatly tested. In their first matchup this season, the Mavs torched the Grizzlies from beyond the arc shooting 18-42 (42.9%). Look for head coach Taylor Jenkins and company to watch that film and make sure the Mavs don’t get as many easy open looks.
The Mavs are a good team, even without Luka Doncic, but the Grizzlies matchup fairly well with a Doncic-less Mavs team especially if J.J. Barea and Seth Curry are unable to give it a go as well. Porzingis is sure to get his numbers tonight, but with his defensive limitations, so should JJJ, Valanciunas and Brandon Clarke. Valanciunas’ physicality down low could pose some big problems for the Mavs as they don’t have great big man depth after Porzingis with Bojan Marjanovic and the recently acquired Willie Cauley-Stein. It should be a good game, but I predict Memphis stay hot and beats a depleted Mavs team.
Grizzlies 122, Mavericks 116