WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 8:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/ESPN/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
DALLAS: Tyrell Terry (Out, personal)
MEMPHIS: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, knee), De’Anthony Melton (Out, leg soreness), Justise Winslow (Out, thigh soreness)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
DALLAS- Luka Doncic, Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis
MEMPHIS- Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
The Grizzlies wrap up their 3-game home stand with a big-time matchup against divisional foe Dallas Mavericks. A win for the Grizzlies would put them just a half game behind the Mavericks for the 7-seed and the division lead. A win would also tie the season series at 1-1 with a pivotal tie-breaking 3rd game in May.
The win won’t come easy, with the Grizzlies still without the services of JJJ, Melton and Winslow. The Mavs are just 1-3 after their recent five game win streak, proving that they haven’t yet found the consistency this season that they had late last year.
Will Jonas Valanciunas continue his dominant streak going up against yet another big name big man? Can Dillon lock up Luka the way he helped slow down Zach LaVine on Monday? Here are some key’s for the Grizzlies to pull out a big victory tonight.
The Grizzlies will need to continue to force the Mavs to play isolation basketball to come away with a victory tonight. The Mavs are a bottom-5 team in the NBA in terms of assists per game, relying heavily on Luka Doncic (8.6 of the Mavs 22.3 assists per game) for both their scoring and playmaking. Doncic is likely going to get his points one way or the other tonight, but if the Grizzlies can make him just a scorer and limit his passing, it will really be beneficial for a Memphis win. The Grizzlies’ help defense will need to be ready, but will also need to be ready to rotate to their man to avoid Doncic’s dribble penetration to create easy looks for the Mavericks. If the Grizzlies can keep the Mavs forcing things from an individual standpoint, it should go a long way in a successful night for the Grizzlies.
Control the Pace
The Grizzlies excel, no matter who they are playing, when they control the tempo. Even on Monday against the Bulls, Chicago kept things close by limiting the Grizzlies fast-break opportunities and controlling the pace. In the second half, and mainly the end of the game, the Grizzlies controlled things en route to the win.
With the Mavs being one of the bottom 5 teams in PACE (per NBAStats), the Grizzlies will need to speed things up on both ends to get some easy baskets, as well as force some Mavs miscues. The Grizzlies have had recent success against some of the slower teams in the NBA as they beat up on Atlanta and Miami, as well as the Knicks — before a poor 4th quarter in that game doomed the Grizzlies as they found themselves with an overtime loss.
The Mavs will slow things down offensively, relying on Luka magic to get a lot of their points, so the Grizzlies will need to take advantage of the misses and push the basketball to get some easy fast break opportunities. The Grizzlies can also look to frustrate Luka, who has been on a complaining spree to the officials, and force some turnovers or even just push the fast break when he lingers to complain to the officials.
The Mavericks have been one of the weirder teams in the NBA this season. They seemed to have turned a corner when they hit the 5-game winning streak, but have struggled since. Kristaps Porzingis has looked mostly like a shell of himself from last season, particularly defensively, as he continues to fully recover from a torn right meniscus. If it’s a night where his knee is clearly bothering him, Grizzlies fans will certainly be a lot more appreciative of the long-term approach with Jaren Jackson Jr.’s rehabilitation.
Luka is going to get his points, and KP likely will too, but outside of that duo there isn’t much to be afraid of from the Mavs offense. Guys like J.J. Redick and Tim Hardaway Jr. are certainly capable of going off for big nights, with the Grizzlies being victim to a 29-point Hardaway Jr. outburst in the first matchup. Ultimately, I think the Grizzlies defense is in a pretty good groove, outside of the first half against Indiana, and the offense will do just enough to squeak out a big win on ESPN.
Prediction: Grizzlies 125, Mavericks 119