WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson (Questionable, Health and Safety Protocols), Dillon Brooks (Out, ankle)
WASHINGTON: No Injuries
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
WASHINTON: Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma, Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Daniel Gafford
A Winning Streak!
Sure, back-to-back wins are not as nice as 11 wins in a row. However, with a divisional win over the Spurs and a big victory over the Jazz that now gives the Grizzlies a 3 1⁄2 game cushion for third place in the Western Conference, Memphis is once again in a pretty favorable position heading into tonight’s matchup with the Washington Wizards.
Beyond the wins, the play of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant is also very exciting to see at the moment. Over the past two games, Morant has 40 points and a 30-point triple-double while Jaren Jackson Jr. has back-to-back six block games. Both players are consistently proving to the franchise, the fanbase, and the NBA that the Grizzlies have never had a pair of players like them. Their play as of late, and the Grizzlies success overall, has been outstanding.
It is hard to say the same thing about the Washington Wizards. One of the surprise teams to start the season, the Wizards have come back down to earth in 2022. Now 5-8 in the month of January, and being on the losing end of one of the biggest comeback wins in NBA history by the Clippers, Washington certainly is trying to get back on the right track. Of course, Washington still has Bradley Beal, and the Wizards beat Memphis by 28 earlier this season. The Grizzlies must remain disciplined to get the win tonight.
Another advantage for the Wizards is the fact that they have not played since experiencing that historic let down on Tuesday night. With three days off from games after going 3-5 over an eight game homestand, the Wizards will be plenty rested and fully motivated to get a win. Washington also is fully healthy, so they will have plenty of depth to utilize.
Of course, if Memphis can also get back Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson, that certainly could help their cause. However, the Grizzlies will need to focus on a few key areas to get the win.
Win The Turnover Battle
The Grizzlies lead the NBA in both blocks and steals in the month of January. The Wizards are last in the league in steals this month. Memphis can create a clear advantage if they play opportunistic defense and defend the paint. If the Grizzlies can create turnovers and get out on the run, they can set the tone early and grab a lead they should be able to maintain.
Dial It Up From Distance
This month, the Wizards are tied for second to last in the NBA in threes made per game. The Grizzlies are last. Both teams have been near the bottom of the league all month shooting the three. This means that that game will likely be won through production inside the arc or by one team producing a hot streak from deep.
The Grizzlies should have the advantage inside the arc and in the paint. They are the best paint scoring team in the NBA while the Wizards give up the second highest opponent’s 2PFG% in the NBA. Washington is also bottom five in free throws yielded, so Memphis should have every reason to attack the paint tonight.
This is a game the Grizzlies should and need to win. The have navigated a very tough stretch of games this month with a winning record, which is a big success considering the injuries they have dealt with. Another fun narrative to watch is a bit of history could be made. Morant is currently 28 points shy of the Grizzlies all-time record for points in a calendar month. Though the hope is that he could get a bit of rest tonight, it will be interesting to see if he could also put together a sixth straight game scoring 30 or more points.
Final: Grizz 118 Wizards 105