WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Steven Adams (Questionable, shoulder), Jake LaRavia (Doubtful, foot), Desmond Bane (Out, toe), Danny Green (Out, knee), Kennedy Chandler (G-League Assignment), Kenneth Lofton Jr. (G-League Two-Way Transfer), Vince Williams Jr. (G-League Two-Way Transfer)
DETROIT: Cade Cunningham (Out, shin), Isaiah Livers (Out, shoulder), Duncan Robinson (Probable, ankle), Omer Yurtseven (Out, ankle)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, John Konchar, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
DETROIT: Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III
While they may still be without Desmond Bane, the Memphis Grizzlies have seemed to hit their stride. Memphis has won four straight and now only sit a half-game behind the New Orleans Pelicans, the top seed in the Western Conference. Ziaire Williams made his season debut Wednesday and Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. are playing at an elite level. Dillon Brooks has also been great for the Grizzlies. While his shooting percentages are down, Brooks is averaging 17.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.9 assists while taking on the toughest defensive assignment every night.
Monday night, the Grizzlies showed that they did not need to rely on their stars to win close games. With multiple players out, it was up to Tyus Jones, Santi Aldama, and Brandon Clarke to lead the Grizzlies over the Miami Heat. Memphis is finding its groove at the right time. The Grizz have matchups with the Bucks, Nuggets, Suns, Warriors, Raptors and Pelicans coming up so it is a good sign that everything is beginning to click.
After playing only five days ago, the Grizzlies will face the Detroit Pistons for the second and final time this year. Last week, the Grizzlies traveled to Detroit and took home a 10-point victory behind Morant’s 33 points and 10 assists. The Pistons may be 7-20, but they have a lot of young talent and hold wins over the Nuggets, Mavericks, Jazz, and Warriors. Tonight marks the third game of Memphis’s five-game homestand.
Can they continue their dominance in the Grindhouse?
Here are some keys to tonight’s matchup.
Crash the Glass
Memphis leads the NBA in rebounds per game, averaging 48.7 rebounds this season. The Grizzlies also lead the league in rebound percentage; a statistic used to measure how effective a team is at gaining possession of the basketball after a missed shot. Meanwhile, the Pistons are 24th in rebound percentage and 25th in defensive rebound percentage. This means the Grizzlies will have a lot of opportunities for second-chance points. The Grizzlies rank 4th in the NBA in that metric.
Steven Adams is currently listed as questionable for tonight’s game. If he is to play, Memphis will dominate inside. Adams currently leads the league in offensive rebounds with 4.9 per game. Adams did not play in Sunday’s matchup with Detroit but Memphis still won the rebounding battle thanks in large part to Clarke who reeled in 14 boards. The Grizzlies lead the league in offensive rebounds. They average 13.6 offensive rebounds per game. Against Detroit on Sunday, Memphis only grabbed 12. Expect that number to increase if Adams suits up tonight.
Feed Jaren Jackson Jr.
From the opening tip on Sunday, it was clear the Pistons could not guard Jackson. He dominated inside, shooting 7-13 and getting to the line four times. However, seven of his shots and five of his seven free throw attempts were in the first half. While this is partly because Morant took over in the third quarter, fans have been calling for the Grizzlies to give JJJ more touches all season. This season, when he has been given the opportunity, Jackson has been more aggressive offensively. While his three-point percentage is up from last year, he has been passing up open threes, using his size to bully his way inside.
Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley and Jalen Duren cannot possibly hope to stop Jackson. When deployed properly, Jackson’s two-way prowess resembles Giannis Antetokounmpo’s. Throughout his career and especially this season, Morant has shown a willingness to defer to his teammates and get them involved. If the Grizzlies get Trip going early and continue to feed him, Detroit will have no answer.
Like I said at the top, Memphis is rolling. The Grizzlies are yet to play a game with Morant, Bane and Jackson together and are tied for the second-best record in the Western Conference. Over the course of the last four games, the Grizzlies have proven that they are one of the league’s top contenders, and if they can get healthy soon, they will put together a winning streak much larger than four games.
I expect Jackson to have another strong game, earning his third double-double of the year. Morant will continue his hot streak and outduel Jaden Ivey, who many compared to Morant when the Pistons drafted him in June. The Friday night crowd at the Grindhouse will give Memphis the edge as they cruise to their fifth straight victory.
Memphis 122, Detroit 104