WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Steven Adams (Questionable, ankle), Dillon Brooks (Out, hand), Killian Tillie (Out, back)
Phoenix: Landry Shamet (Questionable, foot), Deandre Ayton (Doubtful, leg), Dario Saric (Out, ACL)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, De’Anthony Melton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
PHOENIX: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Javale McGee
The Memphis Grizzlies will try and finish off a three-game homestand against the defending Western Conference Champ Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
Despite a 32 point effort and another night flirting with a triple-double, Ja Morant was not able to lead the Grizzlies to a win over Charlotte on Wednesday. There was some good to take out of that loss – mainly, the season debut of Dillon Brooks. Brooks shook the rust off rather quickly, filling it up for 20 points. But, like we’ve seen with other returns from injury, Memphis is being (perhaps overly) cautious and Brooks will *not* suit up against the Suns. The Grizzlies will have to get something from Desmond Bane, as he has missed his last 15 3-point attempts.
The Suns come into the game red hot, winners of six straight. They will be without starting center Deandre Ayton. That didn’t really matter in Wednesday’s win over Portland. Frank Kaminsky came off the bench to lead Phoenix with 31 points.
Grizzlies are going to have to be on the top of their game if they hope to complete the homestand with a winning record. Here are three keys to securing a W.
Win the Battle in the Paint
These two teams come into tonight’s game sitting 2nd and 3rd in the league in points in the paint. But, they are doing it more than just throwing it down low to their big men and let them work. Ja accounts for nearly a third of the Grizzlies 51.8 points per game in the paint, while the Suns are getting it from everyone – Ayton, Booker, Bridges, Paul, etc.
On the flip side of the Grizzlies ranking second in points scored in the paint, they also rank in the bottom 10 for points allowed in the paint. With Ayton probably out, the Grizzlies will have to take advantage, but also make sure it’s not Booker and Paul who are getting to the cup with ease.
Avoid the Runs
The Memphis Grizzlies rank last in the league in defense, so it’s no surprise that are susceptible to giving up a big run or two. On Wednesday, the Grizzlies held a 6 point lead in the first quarter before the Hornets ripped off a 19-0 run and the Grizz were never able to recover. Monday, the Timberwolves put together multiple 15-2 runs, which the Grizzlies were able to overcome in the end by beating Minnesota in OT.
The difference between the two teams is that Charlotte is a young team with playoff hopes, while the Timberwolves are a young team still figuring out how to play together.
The Suns on the other hand, are a veteran team with title aspirations. You absolutely cannot allow the Suns to go on a big run, as you will have little or no shot of getting back into the game.
Establish a Rotation
I know it’s early in the season, and the returning Dillon Brooks is back out of the lineup tonight, but there has to be consistency.
No, I don’t think Taylor Jenkins should be fired, and no I don’t think the season is over after Wednesday’s loss. But, there have been some head scratching lineups so far this season. Players play better when they are comfortable with the guys they are playing with. Maybe shorten the rotation by 1 and let guys get into rhythm and see what happens.
I think Bane finds his stroke, and Ja puts together another impressive performance and the Grizz halt the Suns win streak before heading to New Orleans.
Final --- Grizz 109 Phoenix 98
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