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Memphis Grizzlies vs. New York Knicks Game Preview

Ja Morant and the Grizzlies open the regular season with a matchup against Jalen Brunson and the New York Knicks

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NBA: New York Knicks at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies vs. New York Knicks

WHEN: 6:30 PM CT

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: ESPN/Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Doubtful, thigh soreness), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, foot surgery recovery), Danny Green (Out, knee surgery recovery), Ziaire Williams (Out, knee soreness)

NEW YORK: Quentin Grimes (Out, foot)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, John Konchar, Santi Aldama, Steven Adams

NEW YORK: Jalen Brunson, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson


The regular season is finally here as the Grizzlies are set to face off against the New York Knicks tomorrow night! The Grizzlies went 3-2 in the preseason, while the Knicks went 4-1 as they integrated their big free agent signing, Jalen Brunson, into the lineup.

Tomorrow night’s matchup against the Knicks tips off what is the most important season for this era in Grizzlies basketball. Coming off a 56-win season last year, the Grizzlies won’t sneak up on anybody and instead will have a target on their back after trash-talking everybody in their path last season. The Grizzlies will look to build upon last season’s success in hopes of making a deeper run in the postseason this year.

The Grizzlies mantra under Taylor Jenkins has been to get better every day and to take everything day by day. That process starts tomorrow night against the Knicks. Here are a few keys for the Grizzlies to get the season started on the right track.

Success from the lines

Memphis Grizzlies v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

One of the main areas of focus for the front office and coaching staff heading into the season is the emphasis on 3-point shooting. The decisions made during the draft and throughout the offseason definitely puts a larger emphasis on shooting. Unfortunately for Memphis, the early returns in preseason were disappointing. The Grizzlies shot just 27.9% from deep in the preseason on just 33 attempts per game. Ziaire Williams (41.7%) and Santi Aldama (40%) are the only two Grizzlies to shoot higher than 35% from (min. 10 attempts) in the preseason. While the preseason is mostly about getting in the reps and getting your legs underneath you, the Grizzlies emphasis on 3-point shooting will need to lead to made baskets in order to help space the floor in Taylor Jenkins’ offense.

Additionally, the Grizzlies were quite inconsistent from the free throw line this preseason. They did an excellent job at drawing fouls with 34.6 free throw attempts per game but shot just 73.4% from the line. The Grizzlies shot a comparable 73.4% from the charity stripe last season, but with just 23.1 attempts per game. If they’re going to get 7-10 more attempts from the free throw line, they need to take advantage and take the points. Missing free throws is an easy way to spark an opposing run by the other team and create issues within your own offense.

Control the Tempo

New York Knicks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Grizzlies were one of the fastest teams in the NBA last season, while the Knicks played at one of the slowest paces in the league. The Grizzlies lost two key defensive players in Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton who helped create fastbreak opportunities by forcing turnovers, but Memphis didn’t seem to lose a step without them this preseason as they forced 21.4 turnovers per game this preseason.

The Grizzlies will need to force some Knick turnovers to get out and get easy buckets in the fastbreak as the Knicks will very likely try and slow the game down, especially given the Grizzlies half-court inconsistencies on offense last season. While improving upon the half-court offense was another focal point for Memphis this past summer, it won’t improve with the way the Grizzlies shot the ball during the preseason. Taking advantage of opportunities to get on the break will be critical in Memphis making New York uncomfortable.

The Prediction

The beginning of the season can be tricky for teams. Just last season there was pressure on Memphis to win its opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers before hitting a 4-game road trip that featured both LA teams, Portland and Golden State. In hindsight that Cleveland matchup was the 2nd toughest for the Grizzlies in the opening stretch, as the Cavaliers were one of the NBA’s Cinderella stories of last season. The Grizzlies put on a show in the season opener last season, and I expect them to do the same tomorrow night with the Knicks in town.

Ja Morant flashed some of his improvements during the preseason but he’ll be fully locked in for the season opener. The Grizzlies will miss Jaren Jackson Jr., especially defensively, but Santi Aldama has shined in the preseason while David Roddy or Jake LaRavia look ready to help fill in Kyle Anderson’s rotation spot. Both players look likely to get an early opportunity for minutes with Brooks doubtful and Ziaire Williams out tomorrow night.

The Knicks, meanwhile, will be looking to find the success they had two seasons ago after a stinker last season. Jalen Brunson should revitalize the offense while RJ Barrett should continue to improve. Ultimately though, Memphis is the better and more complete team and should be able come away with the victory in the season opener. It’ll be closer throughout as the teams feel each other out, but I expect Memphis to pull away in the 4th quarter.

Memphis 116, New York 108

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