WHERE: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
WHEN: 6:00PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Justise Winslow (Out, Hip); Jordan Bell (Questionable, Traded); Gorgui Dieng (Questionable, Traded); Jonas Valanciunas (Questionable, Ankle); Grayson Allen (Out, Hip)
PHILADELPHIA- Josh Richardson (Out, Hamstring); Alec Burks (Questionable, Traded); Glenn Robinson III (Questionable, Traded); Kyle O’Quinn (Questionable, Personal); Jonah Bolden (Questionable)
MEMPHIS- Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
PHILADELPHIA- Ben Simmons, Shake Milton, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, Joel Embiid
After the NBA Trade Deadline dust has settled, the Grizzlies hit the road again and travel up to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers. When you tune in tonight, however, you may not recognize some of the players out there. The Grizzlies and Sixers were two teams that made the most noise before Thursday’s 3:00 PM deadline. That will of course affect this game tonight depending on if these players will be able to suit up for the action. Without going into the detailed breakdown which will come over the next few days, in summation, the Grizzlies acquired Justise Winslow (injured), Dion Waiters (likely waived), Jordan Bell, and Gorgui Dieng. The Sixers acquired Glen Robinson III, Alec Burks, and Norvel Pelle. All these players will be game-time decisions for this one.
Outside of the craziness with these two teams’ deadlines, it will be an exciting match-up between these two teams. The Grizzlies are coming in having won six of their last seven overachieving on the season. The reverse can be said for the 76ers, as they are coming in to this game on a three game losing streak. Josh Richardson was reported to have recently called a team meeting to try and fix these troubles that are going on within their locker room.
This could be a positive or a negative for the Grizzlies. Maybe they will be focused to end this losing streak or they will continue their poor play and the Grizzlies can take advantage. The key for Memphis will be to find open shots around the three-point arc. This team has insane length, so it is not advisable to rely on attacking the paint. Take advantage when you can, but they need to create the offensive around the perimeter first then see what is available inside.
Here are two things to watch in this one:
Joel Embiid vs. Jonas Valanciunas
This will be the premier match-up on defense for this game, and it will earlier on tell if the Grizzlies can steal a win on the road. Joel Embiid is the lifeblood to this Sixers team. Yes, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Al Horford are great players, but they do not affect the game as much as Embiid. If Valanciunas can upset Embiid early, the Grizzlies have a great chance.
The key for JV will be to deny Embiid access into the paint. He thrives posting up and using his unsuspecting speed to advantage. Let him play out around the three-point line and jack up threes all game. That is the shot you want to give him instead of a post-up. Embiid loves to attack slower bigs down low because he can get around them for a lay-up. Valanciunas just needs to beat him to the spot and play bully ball denying him the chance at an easy bucket. Also, coming off injury, Embiid will not want to get rough and dirty down low. This will be a match-up to watch for out the gate.
Ja Morant vs. The Philadelphia Length
As mentioned above, another key to this game and something to watch for is the Philadelphia length. It is one of the most impressive thing about their roster. Even with Josh Richardson sidelined, the Grizzlies will be in for a tough night on offense, specifically Ja Morant. He will get to make his debut in Philadelphia, and will get an introduction to a forest of long arms to navigate through any time he gets the ball.
Morant thrives on getting to the basket, but he will need to be careful tonight. If he can spread out the floor, then he may be able to work his magic. If not, he will be swatted and bodied up by Embiid, Simmons, or Horford. There is not much of a solution with Embiid down low. Morant will just have to use those basketball smarts to challenge if it is the right time to attack or not. It will be a challenge, but Morant is definitely equipped to handle it.
After all is said and done, I actually see the Grizzlies coming out on top. I think two players that we did not even talk about will have big games. One is Dillon Brooks, who is absolutely feeling himself after scoring big numbers as late and coming off a nice little extension to stay with the Grizzlies. He will be up against Shake Milton, and the advantage there goes to Brooks. Also, I see Jaren Jackson Jr. filling up the stat sheet. Al Horford has looked displeased and vulnerable over these last few weeks for the Sixers, and I see Jackson Jr. exploiting him down low with Embiid and Valanciunas focused on each other.
Sixers- +7.5 (could change by tip)
Take the Grizzlies and the points here. I see this being close at the very least. If you want to get really crazy, take the Grizzlies ML at +215.
Grizzlies- 115, Sixers- 113