WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Questionable, Health and Safety Protocols), DeAnthony Melton (Questionable, Health and Safety Protocols), Kyle Anderson (Doubtful, Back Soreness), Desmond Bane (Doubtful, Quad Soreness), Yves Pons (Doubtful, Ankle Soreness), John Konchar (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Xavier Tillman Sr. (Out, Health and Safety Protocols)
DETROIT: Jerami Grant (Out, Thumb), Frank Jackson (Doubtful, Ankle), Cory Joseph (Out), Isaiah Livers (Doubtful, Foot), Kelly Olynyk (Out, Knee), Isaiah Stewart (Doubtful)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, DeAnthony Melton, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
DETROIT: Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Trey Lyles
The Memphis Grizzlies come into Thursday night’s game against Detroit as one of the league’s hottest teams. They are riding a 6-game win streak after escaping Cleveland with a 110-106 win Tuesday night. It’s the Grizzlies third winning streak of at least 5 games this season. They sit firmly in the four spot in the Western Conference, with a five game lead over both Denver in the 5 spot and Dallas in their division.
As it has been for about the last two weeks, there is some good news and some bad news on the Grizzlies injury report. Both Dillon Brooks and DeAnthony Melton have been upgraded to questionable. If the past is any indication, that means both will probably suit up and play for the Grizzlies. On the flip side, Desmond Bane is doubtful with a left quad injury — an injury that has been visibly bothering him since the win over Sacramento on December 26th.
For the Pistons, prior to last night’s game against Charlotte they had won two straight including a win over the defending champs, the Milwaukee Bucks. That win came on the same night the first overall pick Cade Cunningham returned to the lineup after he was in the league’s healthy and safety protocols for the previous four games.
While on paper this game looks like the Grizzlies should win easily, nothing is a given in the NBA.
Here are a couple of keys to tonight’s game.
Don’t Fall Into the Trap
This is a perfect example of a trap game in the NBA. The Grizzlies are winners of six straight, including big wins over the Lakers, Suns, and Nets. It’s easy to get up for those games, but may not be for a team like Detroit, who has the second-worst record in the league. The Grizzlies also have a back-to-back this weekend in LA with the Lakers and Clippers.
The Pistons are also a very young team and we have seen that with young teams, such as OKC, if they get some confidence, it can lead to things going downhill for the Grizz. So, they will need to limit the runs and not allow them to get that confidence.
All of those factors, along with another mixing and matching of players due to injuries and protocols, could be a recipe for disaster.
Another slightly worrisome stat is that 8 of the Grizzlies 14 losses have come against teams currently with a .500 record or worse through Tuesday’s games.
In saying all of that, it does feel the Grizzlies have hit another gear since Thanksgiving, and shouldn’t let a game like this slip away.
Exploit the Size Advantage
Chances are Detroit will be playing without three key big men in Isaiah Stewart, Jerami Grant, and Kelly Olynyk. In their last two games, they have started one man over 6’7” in Trey Lyles.
The Grizzlies should dominate with Steven Adams and Jaren Jackson Jr. While Lyles may be able to keep up with one of them, Jackson more than likely should have a height advantage of at least 4 or 5 inches. We have seen Jackson dominate those types of mismatches at times, he will just make sure he has to stay out of foul trouble.
The Grizzlies should also dominate the glass. Detroit is in the bottom-5 in the league in rebounds and second to last in defensive rebounds. The Grizzlies on the other hand are the best in the NBA in offensive rebounds, and middle of the pack for defensive boards.
It will be interesting to see how the Grizzlies mesh together with both Dillon Brooks and DeAnthony Melton returning to the rotation. Brooks and Ja have only played 7 full games together this season and they are 2-5 in those games. This should be a good game for both of them to get back on the same page.
Detroit doesn’t win in blowout fashion, and we’ve seen how good the Grizzlies are in tight games, so it’s tough for me to see the Grizzlies dropping this one at home.
Final: Grizzlies 122, Detroit 101