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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Sacramento Kings Game Preview

So if this game happens...

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Sacramento Kings v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (18-11, 7-5 away) vs. Sacramento Kings (12-17, 6-8 home)

WHEN: 9:00 PM CT

WHERE: Golden 1 Center — Sacramento, CA

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

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: Brandon Clarke (Out, knee), Sam Merrill (Out, ankle), Ja Morant (Out, Knee & Health and Safety Protocols), Ziaire Williams (Out, ankle), Santi Aldama (Questionable, calf soreness)

SACRAMENTO: Tyrese Haliburton (Questionable, lower back soreness), Chimezie Metu (Questionable, left knee), Richaun Holmes (Doubtful, eye); De’Aaron Fox, Alex Len, Richaun Holmes, Marvin Bagley, Terence Davis, and Lou King (Health and Safety Protocols)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP:

MEMPHIS: Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams

SACRAMENTO: uhhh... let’s try to guess ... Davion Mitchell, Buddy Hield, Mo Harkless, Harrison Barnes, Tristan Thompson


So...

...yeah...

Regardless of your stance on COVID-19 protocols in sports, it’s no debate that it’s doing a number on both the NBA and NFL right now. Both leagues are experiencing a high number of players and team personnel entering health and safety protocols despite high vaccination rates, and some of those vaccinated getting the booster shot as well. Like we all have been for the past 2 years — though on varying degrees, for however this virus has impacted your life — they’re adjusting to the effect of COVID-19, and both leagues have updated their protocols with tighter restrictions.

With saying all that, we’ll see how the situation holds with the Sacramento Kings. They’re at 9 inactive players, and the precedent for postponement is 10, where the Chicago Bulls got to this week. The questionable statuses of Tyrese Haliburton and Chimezie Metu could push them away from that, barring any other additions to the health and safety protocol list.

So, we’ll see. I guess you could put an asterisk next to these keys to the game.

Sacramento Kings v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Capitalizing with the Big Men

The Sacramento Kings are pretty depleted at the big man spot. The absence of Richaun Holmes already does that, but missing Marvin Bagley and Alex Len takes a sizable amount of depth out the rotation for them.

So that leaves them with Tristan Thompson, (maybe) Chimezie Metu, Damian Jones, and Neemias Queta. Not the best outlook for the Kings, especially against a center rotation of Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams, and Xavier Tillman.

Jaren Jackson Jr. is the focal point here. He should see ample opportunities to attack them from all angles — outside the arc, in the paint, off the dribble, everywhere. He was limited to just 22 minutes in their last matchup against the Kings, thanks to a blowout win but also foul trouble. He still managed to score 22 points on 6-13 shooting, while hauling in 9 rebounds and blocking 2 shots. He’s going to need to look like the best player on the floor for the Grizzlies to make this a comfortable, smooth-sailing game.

Steven Adams may not dominate in terms of scoring, but he could be in line for a thunderous rebounding game. In December, he’s averaging 10.6 rebounds and a ridiculous 4.9 offensive rebounds. Given the limited depth at the center spot, Adams could continue his torrid rebounding run by helping Memphis generate transition opportunities and extra possessions.

Xavier Tillman won’t fill up the scoring column, but his defensive consistency could be a major factor here. He needs to capitalize on opportunities to impact the game defensively — as he’s averaging 1.4 steals and a block per game since returning to the rotation.

The Grizzlies’ big men have an opportunity to alter the game against a depleted frontcourt. With the way we’ve seen them play this week, it may not be surprising if they do so.

Sacramento Kings v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Maintain the Urgency

Over these past 3 weeks, we’ve seen the Memphis Grizzlies pick up the urgency and make winning plays throughout the game.

Though the Kings may be shorthanded into this game, they have players that could fill it up to put them in position. Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes are two guys that could get going quickly, especially from downtown. Davion Mitchell is a tenacious defender that can change the game with his energy and his pace. Then, there will be players that are hungry for the opportunity to prove they belong in the league.

The urgency has to stay there, so these Kings don’t catch them slipping. With the focus the Grizzlies have maintained over the past 3 weeks, we won’t have much to worry about in this department.

The Prediction

So, what do we have to predict if we don’t even know if the game is going to go on?

Oh well, the Kings have NBA players playing, and they’ll probably shuffle in some guys that’ll bring a different type of energy and tenacity to make impressions.

However, the Grizzlies are playing some of the best basketball in the league right now, and they’re playing with an unmatched focus as well.

With a giant asterisk on the condition the Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings actually do play...

Final score prediction: Grizzlies 108, Kings 93

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