WHEN: 7:00 PM CST
WHERE: FedExForum - Memphis, TN
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/NBA League Pass/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Grayson Allen (abdominal soreness, Out), Sean McDermott (left foot soreness, Out)
DALLAS: Kristaps Porzingis (knee soreness, Out), Maxi Kleber (Achilles, Questionable)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
DALLAS: Luka Doncic, Josh Richardson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Willie Cauley-Stein
The Memphis Grizzlies are in the endgame now.
They are approaching the final days of what was a gruesome second half schedule that has seen the Grizzlies play around .500 basketball for the back half of the season. There have been some letdowns, but all in all the wheels haven’t completely fallen off as they pursue their playoff aspirations.
Tonight, the Grizzlies welcome a Dallas Mavericks team that they have struggled against thus far this season, dropping the first three matchups. In the 2nd game of yet another back to back, the Grizzlies will look to salvage something from the season series and hopefully avenge the heartbreaking Luka Doncic buzzer beater from their last bout. It won’t be easy either, as Doncic has the Mavericks rolling having won their last four games - even without Kristaps Porzingis.
The Grizzlies have improved their play with each game against Dallas but now, as the play-in chase intensifies, it is time for the Memphis Grizzlies to finally finish the job.
For those that didn’t watch the last Grizzlies-Mavericks game, all that will be remembered is the Doncic buzzer beater and his 29-5-9 stat line. What won’t be remembered is how difficult of a night Dillon Brooks forced him to have in the Forum. Doncic was made effectively a non-factor in the first half before finding ways to score in the second half.
With no Porzingis, there will be an even more heightened focus on Doncic defensively but the defensive assignment will loom just as large for Dillon Brooks. There’s been a push from fans and teammates alike for him to get an NBA All-Defense nod. There’s no better time than now to further prove his worth as a defender with the season in the balance and eyes on that matchup.
There is no “stopping” Luka - one can only hope to contain him enough to get the job done and get out with a W.
Play 4 Quarters of Grizzlies Basketball
Throughout the first half of the season, the Grizzlies had a certain brand of basketball. The second half of the season they’ve shown flashes of it but spent more time chasing the ghosts of it than anything. The Grizzlies are at their best when they: attack the paint, force turnovers, get out and run. There’s been flashes the last few games but it needs to translate for longer stretches against better competition. The Mavericks personnel presents an opportunity to attack the paint, they were +4 in the turnover margin last time and more than doubled Dallas in fast break points. The winning formula is there - they have proven they can do it. They just need to do it for 48 minutes and not 47 minutes and 55 seconds this time around.
Win the division. Clinch the 7th seed.
Make the play-in.
Fight for 8.
The Grizzlies got the first job of the four game home stand accomplished last night as their win over the Pelicans secured them a spot in the play-in. In the words of the late Kobe Bryant and Dillon Brooks last night, “Job’s not finished.” A rested Mavericks team will provide another late season test for the Memphis Grizzlies. Porzingis was their biggest offensive threat outside of Luka in the last matchup. Cauley-Stein, who fills in in his absence, is not near the offensive threat and someone Valanciunas could potentially feast on offensively. The key will be not to be killed by role players who can get hot on any given night like Tim Hardaway Jr. or Josh Richardson.
Nothing comes easy for the Memphis Grizzlies whether we like it or not and I would not expect that to change tonight. Hopefully, for their sakes, they can make it three in a row and put more pressure on Golden State in the race for eight.
FINAL SCORE: Grizzlies 117, Mavericks 113