WHERE: FedExForum Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM Central
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Grayson Allen (Out, Left Hip); Brandon Clarke (Out, Right Quad); Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, Left Knee); Justise Winslow (Out, Back)
ATLANTA- Deandre Bembry’ (Questionable, Abdomen), Clint Capela (Out, Heel), Skal Libissiere (Out, Knee), Trae Young (Questionable, Illness)
MEMPHIS- Ja Morant, De’Anthony Melton, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
ATLANTA- Dewayne Dedmon, Jeff Teague, John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter
As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
Unfortunately for the Memphis Grizzlies, they were on the negative end of that philosophy Friday night. After historic back to back wins by 39 points each versus the Nets and Hawks, Memphis was unable to keep the good times rolling last night in Dallas. Though it was expected that Memphis would come back down to earth eventually, it seems they crashed back down in a hurry. Fortunately, there are plenty of positive factors that should hopefully minimize the impact of the lackluster performance.
For one, both the Trail Blazers and Spurs also suffered losses last night, so the Grizzlies did not lose any ground to two of their closest competitors (though the Pelicans did score a victory.) Secondly, the Grizzlies get to return home and face the Hawks on Saturday night, one of the teams they dominated earlier this week. Without a doubt, the Grizzlies have a good chance of bouncing back and maintaining their momentum as they head into a pivotal stretch of their schedule next week. However, the one thing Memphis must do is avoid overlooking a game they should clearly win.
Fortunately, the Grizzlies should once again find a simple yet effective philosophy could help them Saturday night. When the Grizzlies played the Hawks last Monday, they clearly had a precise offensive strategy in mind. Memphis focused on getting good looks beyond the arc and in the paint, as only eight of their 92 shots were outside of those areas. For the 13th time this season, the Grizzlies made 14 or more threes and made better than 40% of their total three point attempts. The Grizzlies are 9-4 in those contests, which proves that when the Grizzlies make teams focus on the paint, they can get good looks from distance. When the Grizzlies are effective in both areas, they are very tough to beat.
While the Grizzlies should be able to earn a victory tonight if they play to their potential, they must be prepared for some positive regression from Atlanta. For instance, the Hawks only made nine threes on Monday night, while Trae Young did not make a single shot from downtown. Atlanta has made 10 or more threes in nearly 65% of their games this season, while Young has not made a three pointer in only three of those games.
Young is questionable due to flu-like symptoms for tonight’s game, as he missed last night’s contest against the Wizards. If he does play, chances are he will have a better performance that last Monday. Furthermore, the Hawks will have Cam Reddish and Dewayne Dedmon available tonight as well. Reddish stepped up to score a career high 28 points in arguably the best game of his career last night in Young’s absence, and Dedmon will make life tougher around the rim on scoring opportunities. In other words, logic suggests the Hawks are going to be a tougher opponent tonight than they were earlier this week, especially with revenge on their mind.
As can be seen, the Grizzlies will likely be a clear favorite in the game tonight versus Atlanta. However, there are a few areas that the Grizzlies need to make a priority to improve their chances to win. Here a few ways in which the Grizzlies can really take control in tonight’s game:
Stealing the Show, Literally:
The Hawks are 29th in the league in opponent steals allowed per game, while the Grizzlies are 12th in the NBA in steals forced per game. Memphis forced 12 steals Monday night, which allowed for them to consistently have fast break opportunities to score, a strength of the Memphis roster. Atlanta has allowed their opposition to generate 10 or more steals in 24 games this season; the Hawks are 4-20 in that group of games. Especially if Young is not available tonight, the Grizzlies should be able to cause havoc on the perimeter. If Memphis can convert those opportunities to points, they should have a good chance to win.
Dominate the Boards:
As is usually the case, when Memphis rebounds, they are able to get the win. Against the Hawks on Monday, the Grizzlies grabbed 60 total rebounds. Memphis is 6-2 when they grab 55 or more total rebounds, a sign that their defense is performing well. With Dedmon back in the fold for the Hawks, the Grizzlies will have to be attentive with their box outs. If the Grizzlies defense can get consistent stops and avoid second chance looks, there is a good chance they will earn the victory.
Obviously, if Young is not able to go tonight, the Grizzlies chances become even better to get the win. They must not become content with just playing the game and expecting the result to happen. They must play their game and to their potential to ensure that the victory is earned. If they can do that, it will be a nice way to kick off their home-stand heading into next week.
Final Score: Memphis 120, Atlanta 110