WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (10-6, 4-5 away) vs. Brooklyn Nets (7-9, 3-4 at home)
WHEN: 6:00PM CT
WHERE: Barclays Center — Brooklyn, NY
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Desmond Bane (Out, toe), Danny Green (Out, knee), Ziaire Williams (Out, Knee), Ja Morant (Out, Ankle) Kenneth Lofton ( Out, Two-Way Transfer), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, Return from Injury/Foot)
Brooklyn: Kyrie Irving (Questionable, team suspension), TJ Warren (Out, Foot)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Tyus Jones, John Konchar, Dillon Brooks, Santi Aldama, Steven Adams
Brooklyn: Kyrie Irving, Royce O’Neale, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, Nic Claxton
It has been an up and down weekend for the Memphis Grizzlies, though entering Sunday’s matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, they have to feel somewhat positive moving forward. On one hand, the Grizzlies bounced back with an impressive victory over the Thunder on Friday day night due to great performances from Jaren Jackson Jr. and John Konchar. On the other hand, Ja Morant will likely miss a week or two of action due a Grade 1 ankle sprain suffered in the game. However, this is the best possible outcome from what looked like it could have been a serious injury.
Unfortunately, the Grizzlies will be without each of Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. on Sunday. Bane is recovering from a toe injury while the team is managing Jackson Jr.’s return from foot surgery. This means the Grizzlies will have to fully rely on their supporting cast and depth to earn a victory on the road.
This also means the Grizzlies matchup with the Nets will likely be a stark contrast from when the two teams faced off in Memphis earlier this season. In that game, Morant, Bane, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving each scored 35+ points in a Grizzlies victory. Since that game, the Nets have had much to work through off the court. However, with Jacque Vaughn now as coach and Irving potentially returning from suspension tonight, the Nets seem to be trending in the right direction. They also are 6-4 over their last ten games after starting out 1-4 in their first five contests.
Without their stars, tonight will be a tough task for Memphis. If Irving plays, both he and Durant will likely be motivated to get going early on offense. That means the Grizzlies will have to have a sound defense just as they did Friday while also generating plenty of offense in what could be a fast paced game. Here are a few ways Memphis can find success:
Obviously, considering who is out for the Grizzlies and if Irving plays for the Nets, Brooklyn will be the more talented offensive team on the court in tonight’s game. This will make it imperative that the Grizzlies focus on making the most out of every offensive possession, which starts with finding the best shot as consistently as possible. Though the Grizzlies got off to a hot start offensively to start the season, they rank 17th in OFF RTG in the NBA in November. They also rank 23rd and 26th in eFG% and TS%, respectively, for the month as well.
Tyus Jones has plenty of starting experience and the obvious skill set to run an efficient offense. And considering him, Konchar, and Dillon Brooks, there will be some shooting options to feature. However, Brooks must play within the team offensive concept instead of taking ill advised shots. The Grizzlies also must move the ball effectively, limiting turnovers and bad decisions. Without a doubt, Memphis is fully capable of playing an efficient offensive game. The importance of doing that is simply more critical than usual for tonight’s contest.
Boards and Perimeter D
Two ways the Grizzlies can find advantages in this game is through rebounds and perimeter defense. The Nets are one of the league’s worst rebounding teams, and with Konchar, Santi Aldama, and Steven Adams likely starting, the Grizzlies will clearly have a size and rebounding edge. This could lead to extra opportunities for points, a big boost for the Grizzlies as they face an uphill battle when it comes to offensive fire power.
The other key factor is how well Memphis can defend the three. Without Jackson Jr., and with Irving back for the Nets, that could be a tall task. However, if the Grizzlies can some how win the battle from three by playing good perimeter defense, they could have a shot to win. But if Memphis allows the Nets to have looks like the Pelicans and Wizards had over the past week, this game could be over quickly.
The Grizzlies are significant underdogs in this game for logical reasons, and if Durant and Irving are clicking offensively, it could be a long night for Memphis. However, for multiple seasons now, the Grizzlies have found unexpected ways to win when they are without their best talents. For the Grizzlies to get the win, the must play smart and efficient offensively along with good defense. Perhaps Memphis once again can rely on their depth to make a victory happen.
Final Score : Brooklyn 117, Grizzlies 105