WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (9-6, 6-1 away) at Indiana Pacers (11-9, 6-6 home)
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/NBA League Pass/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Jonas Valanciunas (Out, health and safety protocol), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, knee), Jontay Porter (Out, knee), Justise Winslow (Out, hip) Grayson Allen (Out, health and safety protocol)
INDIANA: Caris LeVert (Out, Kidney), (T.J. Warren, Foot)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman Sr.
INDIANA: Malcolm Brogdon, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, Damonis Sabonis, Myles Turner
Watch out! The hottest team in the National Basketball Association resides on Beale Street. After starting the season 2-6 the Memphis Grizzlies are now 9-6 and the leaders of the Southwest Division. Play-in tournament? What play-in? These Memphis Grizzlies have no time for your ignorance. This team is for real and here to stay.
Tonight, the red-hot Grizz take on a sneaky Eastern Conference Contender in the Indiana Pacers who are also without two dynamic players in Caris LeVert, whom they've never had suit up similar to Winslow in Memphis, and TJ “All Bubble” Warren.
Myles Turner has been other worldly on the defensive end, while Sabonis has been a bonafide All Star. Brogdon has also elevated his game to even another level. This game will be dog fight to get to eight straight wins.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The budding star from Gonzaga is currently averaging 20 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game and presents a major defensive problem for this Memphis team. If Coach Jenkins opts to roll out his “normal” starting lineup, that leaves Brandon Clarke to guard Sabonis, which is a mismatch in favor of the Pacers. Coach could opt to start Gorgui Dieng and Tillman together to take away their advantage lineup-wise, but I see him seeking to exploit their defense with his smaller lineups. Memphis will have to be creative with their guards digging down on Sabonis in the post, while not giving up open threes to shooters like Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott.
Spread the Wealth
Bobby Marks said it best on the 3andD podcast last week. Memphis is doing all this because of their depth. Just last night against San Antonio, 9 guys scored double digits and most of the season the shot distribution has been wildly even amongst the rotation. The Golden State Warriors had the motto “Strength in Numbers” during the championship runs, but that truly is what separates Memphis from their opponents. You may punch them in the mouth early with a superior starting lineup, but your bench is about to go through hell for 20+ a night and when you look up, your starters are playing catch-up.
Bet the Bear
The Grizzlies have opened as six-point road dogs in Indy. Vegas is typically spot on, but Memphis has been quite the anomaly here lately. I would have a tough time taking the +200 money line as this is one Memphis’ toughest tests of the year, but I would be comfortable taking Grizz +6 or more.
Sabonis is going to prove too much for Memphis as Indy runs their offense through the All-Star forward. The Grizzlies will stay in due to their superior bench play but fall just short at an 8-game win streak.
Pacers 108 Memphis 104