WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Kyle Anderson (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Desmond Bane (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Dillon Brooks (Out, ankle), Killian Tillie (Out, Health and Safety Protocols)
MILWAUKEE: Jrue Holiday (Questionable, ankle), Brook Lopez (Out, back)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, De’Anthony Melton, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
MILWAUKEE: George Hill, Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis
The Grizzlies will tip off a 4-game road trip with a trip to Milwaukee to face off against the defending champs. The Bucks have been struggling of late, losing 6 of their last 8 games. It’s been a bit of a hot and cold season for the Bucks, with their 2 wins in the recent games being against the Warriors and Nets while having losses against the Pistons and Raptors.
Giannis has been phenomenal once again, and his production should have him firmly in MVP conversations around the league. Khris Middleton has been an excellent number 2 behind Giannis, but the real X-Factor in Milwaukee this season has been Jrue Holiday. His availability could be a huge factor in tonight’s game. If he returns, things are tough for Memphis. If he remains out, it’s one less guy the Grizzlies have to worry about.
Memphis, meanwhile, looks to continue their winning ways after defeating the Bulls on Monday. The Bucks are a tough matchup despite their recent struggles, so here are some keys for the Grizzlies to leave Milwaukee with a win.
Respectable 3-point battle
It’s no secret that the Grizzlies have been struggling to shoot the ball from beyond the arc over the past 13 games. The Grizzlies’ 12-1 record in that span proves they have found ways to win despite shooting under 33% from beyond the arc. However, the Bucks are one of the NBA’s better 3-point shooting teams as they shoot 36.2% on the season on nearly 40 attempts per game. After a 1-9 start on Monday, the Grizzlies finished the game 10-25 from beyond the arc with one of their better shooting performances over the last month or so.
I would be surprised if the Grizzlies win the 3-point battle against the Bucks, but they’ll need to keep it respectable if they want to defeat the Bucks in Milwaukee. Getting outscored by 21+ from deep would be a lot for the team to overcome.
Win the Bench Battle
Both teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to bench production. The Grizzlies have one of the better bench units, averaging 37.3 points per game off the bench. Meanwhile, the Bucks get just 27.2 points per game off the bench which is the 2nd worst bench production in the NBA. Bench scoring isn’t everything, as the Grizzlies staggering lineups to give JJJ and Bane more touches with the bench unit certainly helps the production even if it doesn’t show up in bench scoring. Still, the Bucks rely heavily on their starters as they basically have an 8-man rotation with limited minutes for an 8th or 9th man.
The Grizzlies bench unit will need to outscore Pat Connaughton and Donte DiVincenzo and take advantage of any minutes Giannis and Khris aren’t on the court in order to give themselves an edge against the Bucks.
The Grizzlies actually match up pretty well against the defending champs. Steven Adams will have a size advantage over Bobby Portis to start, and Jaren Jackson Jr. has the size to make things as difficult as one possibly can on Giannis. Things do get a little bit trickier for the Grizzlies on the wing as they don’t have a ton of size to match up with Middleton. Giannis will certainly get his, but the game may come down to how the Grizzlies contain Middleton. If they can keep him in check, the odds of them winning increase dramatically but if he gets on a heater then it’ll be tough for the Grizzlies to overcome.
Ultimately, I think the Bucks play with an extremely high sense of urgency after their recent struggles and Memphis will struggle to contain Middleton with both Bane and Kyle out. Down two key wing defenders will prove to be the difference as Milwaukee stops their skid and gets a narrow victory over Memphis.
Milwaukee 115, Memphis 111