WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Grayson Allen (Doubtful, hand), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, Return from Injury Management - Knee)
ORLANDO: Terrence Ross (Doubtful, back), Chuma Okeke (Out, ankle), Devin Cannady (Out, foot), Michael Carter-Williams (Out, ankle), Otto Porter (Out, foot), Markelle Fultz (Out, knee), Jonathan Isaac (Out, knee)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
ORLANDO: Cole Anthony, Dwayne Bacon, Gary Harris, James Ennis III, Wendell Carter Jr.
The Grizzlies wrap up their quick two game home stand with the first of a home-and-home back-to-back against the Orlando Magic. The Magic finally blew things up this season, trading away Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier in an effort to spark their rebuild. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, find themselves in the middle of the playoff hunt in the Western Conference and will need to pick up some wins to get to the 6-seed and earn home court in the Play-In tournament.
A back-to-back against the Magic could be perfect timing for the Grizzlies as they head into the final stretch of the regular season. No win in the NBA is easy, however, so here are a few things to look out for in tonight’s matchup.
Take Care of Business
It sounds simple enough for the Grizzlies to take care of business and put away the Magic early, but it’s easier said than done. The Grizzlies fell to a resting Clippers team last week, and although it’s understandable to come out flat following a double OT loss in Denver in the middle of a 7-game road trip, the Grizzlies cannot afford to make that mistake again tonight and let their foot off the gas when they presumably take the lead. The Magic are out a lot of their core players, but they have some solid young guys in Cole Anthony, RJ Hampton and Wendell Carter Jr. who are capable of making things a little difficult for the Grizzlies.
Since the trade deadline, the Magic have been one of the worst teams in the league in shooting from beyond the arc and in assists per game. The Grizzlies can’t let the Magic get confidence going from deep and should continue to force them into isolation basketball. Frankly, it’s too late in the season for the Grizzlies to mess around and drop what should be a guaranteed win against a young but not good Magic squad.
Crash the Glass
The Magic have been one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA since they traded away Vucevic at the March 25th trade deadline while the Grizzlies have been one of the league’s better rebounding teams all season long. Mo Bamba is the only player on the Magic’s roster with the size capable of battling down low with Valanciunas for rebounds. The Magic wings do a pretty good job of attacking the glass, but tonight should be a great night for JV to get things going again on the boards after picking up just 9 rebounds in his last 2 games. It will also be key for Kyle Anderson, Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton among others to attack the glass as the Magic will likely have to use multiple guys to box out Valanciunas.
Outrebounding the Magic should lead to them having just one shot attempt on the offensive end, while also allowing the Grizzlies to pick up the second chance points they love so much.
With JJJ out, and Grayson likely out as well, Jenkins will probably put Tyus Jones and Xavier Tillman back into the rotation at least for tonight. While this could cause more arguments about Jenkins’ rotation decisions, it’s at least a positive for tonight as both players should prove to be extremely useful. The Grizzlies also seem to respond positively through any stretch of adversity and although the loss Wednesday against the Blazers was disappointing, I expect them to be able to turn things around quickly against a Magic squad that lacks the skill to compete for a full 48 minutes.
The young Magic will likely keep things interesting in the first half before the Grizzlies ultimately pull away in the second half.
Prediction: Memphis 117, Orlando 100