WHEN: 8:00 PM CT
WHERE: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant (Questionable, Non-Covid Illness), Jake LaRavia (Questionable, Left Shoulder Soreness, Ziaire Williams (Out, Patellar Tendinitis) Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, Right Foot Surgery Recovery), Danny Green (Out, Left Knee Surgery Recovery)
Utah: Walker Kessler (Questionable, Non-Covid Illness), Simone Fontecchio (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Rudy Gay (Out, Health and Safety protocols)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Santi Aldama, Steven Adams
Utah: Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynyk, Jarred Vanderbilt
Coming off their first matchup of the season in Salt Lake City just two nights ago, the Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz face off again tonight. Without star point guard Ja Morant, the Utah Jazz prevailed with a one-point win in an exciting back-and-forth matchup.
With the potential return of Ja Morant and Jake LaRavia, the Grizzlies should have enough firepower to leave Salt Lake City on a high note.
With the Grizzlies losing just their 2nd game of the young season, how can the Grizzlies prevent a sweep of this back-to-back in Utah?
Dillon Brooks is coming off his best game, since he returned from injury against this Jazz team. He scored 30 points on 60% shooting to go along with 4 assists and 3 steals. It was his most efficient game shooting, and he showed glimpses of the playmaking ability he said he wanted to do more of along with his defense.
With Ziaire Williams and Jaren Jackson Jr. both out for an extended time, Dillon Brooks will be needed to continue to perform at some semblance of the level he displayed this past Saturday night. The version of Dillon Brooks that performed in that game is the player fans won’t have too much to complain about.
Defense, Defense, Defense
We all knew the Grizzlies’ defense would probably take a step back to start this season with 2021-2022 All-Defensive 1st team member Jaren Jackson Jr. out for at least a month. Add in solid defenders departing this off-season (De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson) and starting the season on the injury report (Ziaire Williams and Dillon Brooks), it was understood that the defense would likely take a step back to start.
However, giving up 121.5 points per game is not sustainable for winning. Some of the effort displayed in the 4th quarter of the matchup with the Jazz Saturday night is unacceptable. You can’t leave shooters open for three continuously and expect to win a game on the road shorthanded.
I expect that as the Grizzlies get healthier and more cohesive as a group they will get better, like last season, but a better effort must be made more consistently in the meantime to offset the shortcomings of the group as a whole for the time being.
Although there is no guarantee that Ja Morant and Jake LaRavia will return from their non-covid-related illnesses, I expect a game similar to Saturday night, but this time with the Grizzlies find a way to come out on top. I think they look at their defensive shortcomings from the previous matchup and take pride in not allowing those same open looks that Utah generated throughout the last half of the 4th quarter that led to the Grizzlies’ demise.
Memphis 114, Utah 103
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