WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/NBA League Pass/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
GOLDEN STATE: Marquese Chriss (Out, Leg), Klay Thompson (Out, Achilles), Stephen Curry (Doubtful, Tailbone), Kelly Oubre (Doubtful, Foot), Eric Paschall (Day-to-Day, Health Protocols), James Wiseman (Day-to-Day, Health Protocols)
MEMPHIS: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, knee)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
GOLDEN STATE: Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, Damian Lee (?), Jordan Poole (?)
For the Memphis Grizzlies, Wednesday night’s victory over the Miami Heat could not have come at a better time for a variety of reasons. For one, winning the game against the Heat basically removes the lingering effect of the inexplicable loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder this past Sunday. The Grizzlies needed a win after three straight losses, and they got it against a formidable opponent.
The way in which the Grizzlies won also cannot be ignored. The Miami Heat prevented the Grizzlies from beating them in the paint or through Jonas Valanciunas, and yet the Grizzlies still found a way to win. One contributing factor was an elite defensive effort, which has now shown up well in games against talented teams such as Milwaukee, Denver, and Miami.
However, the biggest development from the game against the Heat was the play of Ja Morant. On multiple occasions, Morant carried the Grizzlies late in the game to earn the victory against arguably the league’s best defense over the past month. Just like he did against the Bucks in scoring 35 points in three quarters, Morant once again proved he could make the needed adjustments to find a way to succeed regardless of the competition. This is just the latest example of why so many consider Morant to be a budding superstar.
All of these elements to the Grizzlies success will be needed this weekend as Memphis begins a critical back-to-back series against the Golden State Warriors. The Grizzlies enter tonight’s game with a three game lead over the Thunder and Pelicans for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference. The Warriors are one game ahead of Memphis in ninth place. This arguably could be one of the most important duo of games the Grizzlies play for the rest of the season due to how much direct impact they have on the Grizzlies playoff pursuit.
For the Warriors, times have been a bit tough in March. They have lost five out of their last seven games, and now injuries and COVID-19 are having a similar impact on Golden State as they did Memphis earlier this year. With both Stephen Curry and Kelly Oubre doubtful to play tonight, not only are the Warriors without two key contributors, they are also short-handed. However, with Draymond Green back to his normal effectiveness this season and the emergence of Andrew Wiggins, this Warriors team is still more than capable of finding a way to win, especially through defense.
It seems the oddsmakers are seeing this game as a bit of a push at the moment until more information is known about injuries. However, regardless of who may suit up for the Warriors, there are a few ways in which the Grizzlies can find success.
FIND SUCCESS AT THE RIM:
The Grizzlies could once again find it a bit harder to produce in the paint than usual against the Warriors. Golden State leads the league by allowing the lowest opponent’s 2PFG% so far this season. However, the Grizzlies should still prioritize getting to the rim when they can. Of any area within 19 feet of the basket, the Warriors are most susceptible at the rim. They are also 28th in the league at fouls per game. Though Memphis likes to feature their floaters, they need to show continued aggressiveness, especially Morant, in getting to the basket as a way to get to the free throw line.
BENEFIT FROM THE BOARDS:
The Warriors are currently 28th in offensive rebounds per game, and are last in the NBA in terms of opponent’s offensive rebounds and total rebounds allowed per game. With Jonas Valanciunas and plenty of perimeter depth that can rebound, the Grizzlies should find their way of winning the possession battle by dominating the boards. There should be plenty of opportunities for second chance points and getting out on the run to score.
It does seem as if there will be further updates to come regarding both Curry and Oubre. However, even if both players play and start, this game remains incredibly important for the Grizzlies to win. A victory tonight guarantees a split of this series with the chance for a sweep on Saturday. Though more than 30 games remain on the Grizzlies schedule, a split or sweep this weekend would be a significant boost to strengthening the Grizzlies playoff chances moving forward.
FINAL SCORE: Memphis 113 Golden State 105