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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Atlanta Hawks Game Preview

We’re in for an offensive showdown between two generation point guards.

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Memphis Grizzlies v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (9-9, 6-4 home) vs. Atlanta Hawks (10-9, 2-8 away)

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

WHERE: FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: De’Anthony Melton (Questionable, groin), Sam Merrill (Out, ankle)

ATLANTA: Onyeka Okongwu (Out, Shoulder), Deandre Hunter (Out, Wrist)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams

ATLANTA: Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, John Collins, Clint Capela


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

We’re going to get a Black Friday treat this evening, as the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks battle it out on Beale Street. These two teams have had roughly similar seasons. To varying degrees, both haven’t quite lived up to expectations.

The Grizzlies are an interesting case whether they’re right in the middle of expectations in terms of standings, overachieving in the eyes of some, and underachieving in some crowds as well. After a big run into the Eastern Conference Finals, where they came within 2 wins of a trip to the NBA Finals, the Atlanta Hawks could’ve been due for a big breakout in the regular season. Instead, they’ve kind of sputtered out of the gate. However, they’re picking up some steam here, as they’ve won 6 games in a row.

It’s just a product of surpassing expectations. Nonetheless, these two squads remain two of the brightest young squads with a trajectory towards becoming a potential contender. It should be a fun Friday night of basketball.

Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

A generational battle

Let’s continue with the grateful mindset. We’re lucky and blessed to have a battle between two of the best young guards in the league. Ja Morant and Trae Young have the makings of the next great point guard rivalry.

Both point guards drive the engine of their teams’ offense, as they have the scoring and playmaking chops to make their systems lethal when clicking. They are both on the “All League Pass team” with how they conduct the game with flair, pizzazz, and audacity.

It should be a fun battle to watch, and we should appreciate it. While both players will surely get theirs offensively, whoever outperforms the other could go a long way into determining the outcome of this game.

Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Please, Please Defend the 3

Good news: the Atlanta Hawks rank in the bottom-5 in 3-point attempts per game (31.9)

Bad news: they’re second in 3-point percentage (37.1%).

After embracing the 3-point line for the majority of the Trae Young tenure, they’ve traded a fair amount of their 3’s into mid-range jumpers. The Hawks are 3rd in mid-range frequency, as 37.6% of their shots come within this range, per Cleaning the Glass.

So while their offensive design might be encouraging, they have plenty of weapons from outside that could expose the Grizzlies’ spotty perimeter defense. They have a plethora of players shooting above the league-average from 3 — Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, Trae Young, Danilo Gallinari, just to name a few.

It sounds like a broken record, but this will be a major key as the Grizzlies try to overcome these woes.

Other small observations

  • Let it fly. The Atlanta Hawks are in the bottom-10 in opponent 3-point shooting attempts (38.7). The Grizzlies prioritize as many shots from 3 and at the rim as possible, and finding their rhythm from 3 could be a deciding factor for Memphis. Keep an eye on Desmond Bane here, as he’s 14-25 (56%) from 3 in his past 4 games.
  • Feed Jaren. Jaren Jackson found really good momentum over the past few games, diversifying his shot portfolio a lot better. He’s also getting into a groove inside the arc as well.
  • Foul trouble. The Grizzlies got bad foul trouble with Jackson and Dillon Brooks Wednesday night, and with the weapons the Hawks have deployed, they can’t afford their 2 best defenders to be stuck in foul trouble.

The Hawks are hot, but they’re mid at home. The Memphis Grizzlies should be turned up in this game. It’s tough to predict, but let’s bet on a high-scoring game up in here.

Prediction: Grizzlies 122, Hawks 117

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