WHEN: 3:00 PM CT
WHERE: HP Field House at the NBA Bubble in Orlando, Florida
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MILWAUKEE: Ersan Ilyasova (questionable, elbow), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Out, suspension/headache), Wesley Matthews (Out, hip)
MEMPHIS: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, knee), Tyus Jones (Out, knee), Justise Winslow (out, hip)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MILWAUKEE: Eric Bledsoe, Pat Connaughton, Khris Middleton, Marvin Williams, Brook Lopez
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Anthony Tolliver, Jonas Valanciunas
One of the crazier regular seasons in NBA history will wrap up for the Grizzlies tonight as they play their last of the seeding games in the NBA Bubble in Orlando. The Grizzlies playoff hopes are on the line, as they need a win to secure a spot in the play-in tournament. Fortunately for the Grizzlies they get to wrap up the regular season against the team with the best record in the NBA. It’s unclear how much Taylor Jenkins’ former team is going to play their normal guys, but it is clear they will be without last year's MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was suspended for today’s game for headbutting Moritz Wagner on Tuesday.
Giannis headbutted Mo Wagner and got ejected pic.twitter.com/vmRJuKqF5v— ESPN (@espn) August 12, 2020
Even without Giannis, the Bucks are a great team with the likes of Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe leading the way. A Grizzlies win won’t come easy, especially if the Bucks play their normal guys their usual minutes which has become a theme for the Grizzlies in Orlando.
Still, with their backs against the wall you can’t count out Ja Morant and these resilient Grizzlies. Here’s what they need to do to come away with a win and keep their season alive.
Defend the 3-point line
The Grizzlies have been absolutely atrocious at defending opposing teams 3-point shots in the Orlando bubble. Teams have shot 38.9% on 3-point shots against the Grizzlies in Orlando and a majority of them have come on open looks. The Grizzlies defense has continuously over helped when guards attack the basket, leaving a ton of open shots from beyond the arc. With Giannis out, the Grizzlies defenders will be at least slightly less inclined to cheat off their man and help on drives to the basket. With the Grizzlies shooting a putrid 30.6% from beyond the arc in the bubble, they’ll need to do their best to limit the Bucks 3-point attempts to keep things close.
Win the Turnover Battle
The Grizzlies have excelled in the bubble when they’ve forced turnovers and turned them into fast break opportunities. After being down double digits to the Blazers, Raptors and Celtics, the Grizzlies forced turnovers and were able to climb back within single digits in each game. Against the Raptors the Grizzlies forced 26 turnovers but scored just 19 points off those turnovers. Against the Celtics the Grizzlies forced 15 turnovers and scored 17 points off those turnovers. Forcing turnovers is just half the battle as the Grizzlies need to score on these opportunities. Likewise the Grizzlies need to make sure to take care of the ball and not good an extremely disciplined team like the Bucks easy baskets. If the Grizzlies can play fast but smart, they may have a chance of stealing a win from the Bucks.
It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen later this afternoon as the Bucks technically have a majority of their rotation guys available to play. Simply, if everyone outside of Giannis and Wes Matthews play then the Grizzlies can kiss their play in hopes goodbye. However, if Coach Budenholzer does his protege a solid and rests some key guys like Middleton and Lopez then the Grizzlies stand a much better chance.
Ultimately I expect the Bucks main guys to play decent minutes in the first half and build a 10-point lead but rest down the stretch as the Grizzlies go on a second half run to secure a spot in the play in.
Grizzlies 120 Bucks 113