WHEN: 7:00 PM CST
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/NBA League Pass/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (right thigh soreness, questionable), De’Anthony Melton (left shoulder, questionable), Jaren Jackson Jr. (left knee, out), Killian Tillie (left foot, out), Justise Winslow (left hip, out)
DETROIT: Sekou Doumbouya (concussion, out), Blake Griffin (not with team, out), Killian Hayes (hip, out), Jahlil Okafor (knee, out)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
DETROIT: Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee
The Memphis Grizzlies are in the middle of a home stretch of a tough four games in five nights, as they welcome the Detroit Pistons to Memphis for the first time this season. Memphis hasn’t been kind to Detroit, as they have lost seven of their last nine games at the FedExForum. That being said it will be a reunion of grand proportions as the Pistons have three former Grizzlies on the roster in Delon Wright (2018-19), Wayne Ellington (2012-13), and Josh Jackson (2019-20).
While on paper this seems like a cakewalk, due to the Pistons 8-20 record, this is a game that Memphis can’t afford to take lightly. The Pistons are playing some of their best basketball right now, winning three of their last four games thanks to the play of Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, and Grizzlies castoff Josh Jackson’s performance off the bench. The Memphis Grizzlies have a tendency to play to the level of their competition, sporting a 6-6 record against sub .500 teams — 2-5 in said games at home. This could turn into a trap game as the Memphis Grizzlies play their 4th game in six days against a Pistons team that will surely be motivated after blowing a 25 point lead against the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night.
The Grizzlies swept the season series against the Pistons last season and it is viable for this momentum to continue against this year’s Pistons squad to win their third game this week.
Use Your Size Advantage
Much like their game on Sunday versus the Sacramento Kings, the Grizzlies have a proportionate size advantage over their competition. The Detroit Pistons have one active player above 6’8” 240 lbs in Mason Plumlee. The Memphis Grizzlies are a team that loves to play through the paint, and Taylor Jenkins has reinforced the emphasis on crashing the boards after it cost them a game against the Lakers. The Grizzlies would be smart to replicate the Kings’ gameplan and play through the big fella Jonas Valanciunas and utilize an inside-out approach. Pound the paint until the Pistons show that they can stop it. Rookie Isaiah Stewart, who acts the Pistons sole backup big, is of a similar build as fellow rookie Xavier Tillman Sr. who has been more comfortable playing on the NBA level and could create a matchup problem when Valanciunas heads to the bench. Since Desmond Bane’s absence, Gorgui Dieng has been relegated to the bench in favor of Sean McDermott in Jenkins’s 10-man rotation, but tonight may present a night for the 6’10 floor spacer to create matchup nightmares for the Pistons bench.
The Grizzlies have the personnel to make this a blowout game fairly early. They simply have to know their personnel and take advantage of the numerous mismatches that the Pistons will present defensively.
Saddiq Bey & the Josh Jackson Revenge Game
Tonight the Grizzlies will get their first glimpse of Detroit Pistons rookie Saddiq Bey. Bey, like a number of members of his class, is starting to figure out the NBA. Fresh off a week that saw him average 17.8 points and 5.5 rebounds, while shooting 71.4% (69.6 3PT) from the field, Saddiq Bey is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week. The former Villanova forward will present a formidable matchup alongside former Denver Nugget Jerami Grant for Dillon Brooks and the rest of the starting lineup.
Performances from those particular Pistons won’t necessarily provide the fatal blow that would lead to a Grizzlies loss. Since the Grizzlies lost De’Anthony Melton to injury and Desmond Bane to a personal matter, it has been splash performances from members of opposing second units — such as 20 points and 9 rebounds from Kyle Kuzma and 27 points and 9 rebounds from Josh Hart — that have hurt the Grizzlies. Josh Jackson is the Pistons’ 2nd-leading scorer as their 6th man, averaging 12.8 points per game continuing his path to revitalizing his career after a tough start in Phoenix and a sour finish in Memphis. Unlike the Grizzlies last season, the Pistons tend to lose when Josh Jackson scores in bunches, but there’s always an exception, and the Grizzlies have seemingly been said exception lately as bench players have taken advantage of a defense that is trending downward.
Josh Jackson was just in Taylor Jenkins system a few months ago, so I’m sure he’s still somewhat familiar to the coverages he likes. Jackson will surely like to prove something to his former team that stuck him in the G-League a majority of the season and kept him on the bench for a majority of the bubble, but the Grizzlies can’t afford for that to happen if they want to win.
Step up defensively and don’t allow Josh Jackson to get in the same rhythm as others have in the past week.
The Memphis Grizzlies average margin of victory against the Detroit Pistons last season was 13.5 points. Even shorthanded due to injury, I expect a similar outcome tonight versus this iteration of the Detroit Pistons if the Grizzlies play 48 minutes of non-complacent basketball. The Pistons - especially Josh Jackson - will be motivated coming into tonight’s contest but the Grizzlies are simply too big and too talented for the Pistons to compete.
FINAL SCORE: Grizzlies 130 - Pistons 112