WHERE: Little Caesars Arena— Detroit, MI
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis, NBA TV
MEMPHIS: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, foot surgery recovery), Danny Green (Out, knee surgery recovery)
DETROIT: Marvin Bagley (Out-knee), Bojan Bogdanovic (Questionable-Calf), Nerlens Noel (Questionable-Foot), Kevin Knox (Questionable-Calf), Isaiah Livers (Questionable-Hip)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Santi Aldama, Steven Adams
DETROIT: Jaden Ivey, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren
The Memphis Grizzlies are looking to bounce back after two straight losses to the Heat and Magic. Enter the Pistons, a young team still looking for its first win of the preseason but also has enough talent to win some games this season.
The young group is led by Jaden Ivey, the rookie whose mother, Niele Ivey, was an assistant coach for the Grizzlies and has developed a good relationship with Ja Morant. The Pistons also feature Memphis Tiger and 13th overall pick Jalen Duren who will probably get the start after the injury to Marvin Bagley III in their last game. After some struggles in their previous two games, a game against these young Pistons is not something to overlook.
Here are some things to watch for in today’s preseason game.
More Evidence for the Desmond Bane Year 3 jump
Desmond Bane had struggled this preseason, especially from behind the arc, before his breakout performance against the Magic. He finished with 33 points and showed off his full offensive game in addition to his superb shooting. If Bane can score more off the dribble and in transition, the Grizzlies will be even more challenging to beat this season.
Watch for Bane to add on to his last performance as he finally looks like he is back in a rhythm after a back injury near the end of the season. Based on his last performance, there is no doubt in my mind that Bane can make a jump that puts him squarely in the conversation for the final spots in the All-star game.
Guarding the Perimeter
Without Jaren Jackson Jr. most people would expect the Grizzlies’ interior defense to be a cause for concern. However, Santi Aldama has done a pretty solid job in Jaren’s spot this preseason. What the Grizzlies cannot continue to allow is the number of open threes they have given up in the last two games. Against the Heat, the Grizzlies allowed lots of good looks from behind the arc. The Heat ended up taking 52 threes and made 18 (34%). This trend continued against the Magic, who got a lot of open looks from behind the arc as well but only made 12 of their 35 attempts. It all starts with defensive rotations, which can be exploited by teams that move the ball well, and must be better for the Grizzlies. They also need to focus on overhelping a little less.
The Rookie rotation
After 4 preseason games, it is clear that Jake LaRavia and David Roddy are the rookies most likely to play in the regular rotation. However, it seems that Coach Jenkins is trying to figure out which one deserves a bigger role. LaRavia has played more minutes this preseason, but they both played 16 minutes in the last game vs the Magic. The way Roddy and LaRavia play in these next two preseason games could determine which rookie gets more minutes on opening night, and in the rotation going forward.
If some starters rest, you should definitely expect to see Kennedy Chandler, Vince Williams Jr., and Kenneth Lofton Jr. get some playing time. Lofton Jr. has become a fan favorite after the Summer League and his first preseason game but hasn’t played since. He will most likely spend most of his time with the Hustle this year, but I think he has earned the right to get more minutes in the last two games before opening night. Chandler and Williams have played a little bit more near the end of games, but both of them will probably spend some time on the Hustle as well. I think all three of them should get some more time in the lineup though; just in case they need to be inserted into the lineup this season for any reason.
Putting it all together before opening night
After a strong performance in their first action of the season, the Grizzlies starters have not been up to their usual standards on either end of the floor. Two straight losses against the Heat without many of their starters and the Magic are not what you want to see in preseason, but that’s the whole point of playing these games. It’s not clear whether or not the full starting 5 will play, but either way, the team should be motivated to bounce back and play their best basketball of the preseason.