WHEN: 7:00 P.M. CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN:Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Danny Green (Out, knee), Santi Aldama (Questionable, LT ankle soreness), Kenneth Lofton Jr. (G-league, Two Way), Vince Williams Jr. (G-league, Two Way), Jake LaRavia (G-league, On Assignment), David Roddy (G-league, On Assignment)
New Orleans: Larry Nance Jr. (Doubtful, neck spasms), Brandon Ingram (OUT, Toe Contusion), Herbert Jones (Questionable, return to competion reconditioning), and Dereon Seabron (G-League Two Way assignment)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
New Orleans: CJ McCollun, Naji Marshall, Troy Murphy III, Zion Williamson, and Jonas Valanciunas
As I’m typing this game preview, the New Orleans Pelicans are in a battle with the Philadelphia 76ers at home for the first game of a home and road back-to-back for the Pelicans before starting the new year.
This New Year’s Eve matchup features two of the top three teams in the Western Conference. For the Memphis Grizzlies, it will be about carrying new momentum following a win on Thursday night against the Toronto Raptors. It was a much needed road win that can carry valuable momentum into tonight’s marquee matchup with the Pelicans.
The Pelicans are likely going rest Zion Williamson tonight, as he just returned from injury. Nothing is concreate, just pure speculation. This is an opportunity for Memphis to start a winning streak back at home, where they’ve found success all year. How do the Grizzlies get it done tonight to end 2022?
Continue adjusting on the fly:
The Grizzlies are going to get different coverages each night defensively from teams trying to slow down their scoring. We saw it Thursday night against the Raptors, as Toronto threw several different zones in hopes of slowing down Memphis in the half-court.
The Grizzlies did a great job of moving the ball side to side offensively. The Pelicans have good perimeter wings that can defend using their length. The ball can’t get stagnant tonight for Memphis. I expect Jaren Jackson Jr. to have a huge night tonight as a result of that ball movement.
Defending the Three-Point line:
Memphis did a solid job of defending a very bad three-point shooting Raptors team, but things will be different tonight. The Raptors were bottom two in the NBA in 3-point shooting, and tonight Memphis faces a middle-of-the-pack three-point shooting team in the Pelicans.
The Grizzlies, during their spiral over the last 6 games have let guys that don’t normally shoot well shoot very well. Call it luck, or call it guys on opposing teams getting confident early. The Grizzlies cannot allow the Pelicans to get to their spots with ease tonight.
This is an opportunity to continue their progression to the mean in terms of defending the perimeter at a high level, and taking down a team that could be resting several key pieces.
The energy inside FedExForum will be awesome tonight. It’s New Year’s Eve, and the Grizzlies are facing a team that has the potential to be a rival to Memphis for years to come. It’s always fun when these two teams get together, but tonight I think that the Pelicans will be without quite a few guys due to the back-to-back.
With that being said, I think Memphis takes down New Orleans rather easily to put a cap on quite the year 2022.