WHEN: 8:00 PM CT
WHERE: Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), De’Anthony Melton (Out, Health and Safety Protocols, Santi Aldama (Out, calf), Jarrett Culver (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Sam Merrill (Out, ankle), Ziaire Williams (Out, Ankle/Health and Safety Protocols), Yves Pons (Out, Health and Safety Protocols)
Phoenix Suns: Jae Crowder (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Dario Saric (Out, Knee), Frank Kaminsky (Out, knee), Abdel Nader (Out, knee), Elfrid Payton (Out, Health and Safety Protocols)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, John Konchar, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
PHOENIX: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikail Bridges, Cameron Johnson, DeAndre Ayton
Congratulations to the Memphis Grizzlies! After snapping your three game skid the NBA schedule has rewarded you with the Phoenix Suns, on the road on the second night of a back to back. This isn't your mom and dad’s Phoenix Suns, no this is legit NBA title contender Phoenix.
Not only are the Suns one of the elite teams in the league this season featuring two bonafide superstars, they are also coming off a tough loss to another elite team in the Golden State Warriors. One of the hottest teams in the Association will want no part of dropping two straight as Memphis will have their hands full on Monday night.
Memphis is taking their turn with key members of the roster entering Health and Safety protocols as Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton are currently not available Memphis — get well soon fellas.
There is always a formula to a win in the NBA, here’s what it is on Monday night:
Keep it Movin’
Dillon won’t be there to pester Devin Booker, put his head in his chest, talk trash and just wear him down. Facing an elite team without two important defenders means the offensive side of the ball will have to operate near flawlessly.
Against the Kings on Sunday night, Memphis tallied their second highest assist total on the season with 33 assists. The system that Taylor Jenkins runs is predicated on ball movement and generating the best shot, not just a good one. In the second half against Sacramento, Memphis found their groove offensively and they need that to carry over against the Suns.
Next Man Up
John Konchar had a special night in Sacramento as he made his first career start with a double double to boot. I will swear by this statement in regards to Jitty: He is always in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
In order to pull off the upset, the Grizzlies will not only need Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr to be on top of their games, the other guys will need to be crisp as well. John Konchar, Tyus Jones, Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman will all be crucial in Phoenix if Memphis wants to finish this three game trip on the winning side.
I know it seems like a lot but the Suns are that good. The second unit will have to limit guys like Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet from outperforming their norms. Depth is the strength for Memphis and winning the bench minutes will be massive.
Defending the Pick and Roll
It is no secret that teams hunt for the Ja Morant-Steven Adams defensive combo in a screening situation. Memphis struggled to defend against screens in the Golden State loss and now have to face the best pick and roll point guard in the league in Chris Paul. He will meticulously pick the Grizzlies defense apart if they are not five guys on a string. Drop coverage is a no go against Paul so the help side defenders will have to help on the Ayton roll and rotations will have to quick and tight if the ball is kicked to the perimeter.
This can really be looked at as a scheduled loss for the Grizz. Second night of a back to back on the road against a contender. The starters probably played 5-7 minutes more than you would have liked for rest purposes against the Kings. But one thing I have learned not to do: count Ja Morant out.
The should-be All Star has the ability to will a team to victory on any given night so the Grizzlies will never be out of it with him at the helm.
However, the cards seem to be stacked against the Grizzlies on Monday night.
Prediction: Phoenix 117 Memphis 103