WHEN: 7:00PM CT
WHERE: Chase Center— San Francisco, CA
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: ABC/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Danny Green (Out, knee), Kennedy Chandler (Probable, Nasal Fracture)
GOLDEN STATE: Stephen Curry (Out, Shoulder), Andre Iguodala (Out, hip), Andrew Wiggins (Out, Groin), JaMychal Green (Out, Illness), Draymond Green (Questionable, RT foot soreness)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
GOLDEN STATE: Jordan Poole, Moses Moody, Johnathan Kuminga, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
The most anticipated matchup of the Grizzlies regular season is finally here, a Christmas matchup with the defending champion Warriors. The game comes on the back of offseason trash-talking between players both on and off of social media, including Ja Morant and Draymond Green clamoring for it to be played.
The champs play at home Young! Christmas Day… LJ https://t.co/n5ji0xpu0j— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) June 19, 2022
im coming to you then. tell em book dat shit . im on yo block https://t.co/fuJu2jPOwd— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) June 19, 2022
After 6 months of anticipation it’s finally here, and the Grizzlies are healthy and hitting their stride after a big win in Phoenix. The Warriors, on the other hand, will be without Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins and have struggled without them, going just 1-4 since Curry’s injury vs Indiana.
Regardless of who plays, the Grizzlies are looking for a chance to prove themselves against the team that sent them home last season. It might not be a legit rivalry yet, but it is clear that there will be some extra competitive fire on both sides.
The significance of Christmas Day
The NBA on Christmas Day has been a tradition for decades. All of the best players in NBA history have suited up for big matchups on Christmas, and the Grizzlies are included for the first time ever. For a lot of teams, playing on Christmas is a given every year, but this game is significant not just for the young Grizzlies but also for the city. It’s also something that many young basketball players, including Morant, have been looking forward too for years.
Even during the “Grit ‘n’ Grind” era with great players like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, a Christmas game seemed far-fetched for Memphis. Now with the most exhilarating young player in the league and a group of exciting young prospects that have grown into contenders, the Grizzlies finally get to play on Christmas and in primetime. Hopefully it will be the first of many in this new era of basketball where young Grizzly fans won’t have to wonder if their team is relevant enough for the NBA’s biggest stage.
Grizzlies returning to full strength
The Grizzlies have struggled with injuries all season, especially to their big three of Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. For the first time this season, all three of them played against Phoenix and we got a glimpse of the Grizzlies’ rotation at its best.
They certainly did not disappoint as they got out to a 20+ point lead in the first quarter and did not let up on their way to a blowout win. With no additions to the injury report, the Grizzlies will be fully healthy again in San Francisco for the first Christmas game in franchise history. If the last game was any indication, with the best, aggressive versions of the Grizzlies big three they will be very tough to beat.
Fixing the road struggles
The Grizzlies, like many teams in the NBA this season, have definitely struggled on the road so far this season. It all starts on defense, especially on the perimeter where the Grizzlies have struggled. They have allowed teams to shoot over 39% from behind the arc in road games this season, the 3rd highest in the NBA, compared to just 31% at home.
Even with a lot of players out, it’s never easy to get a road win in Golden State. In seasons past, the Grizzlies have prided themselves on beating “road warriors,” and they will need to carry that mindset over from their victory over the Suns.
Even though the injuries have made the matchup lose a bit of its luster, the primetime game on Christmas will still be a huge draw. However, a fully healthy and determined Grizzlies team might be too much for the depleted Warriors. For a prediction, expect the Grizzlies to start strong and win a close one, 123-117.