WHERE: Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC
WHEN: 6:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
CHARLOTTE: Cody Martin (Doubtful, Ankle), Jalen McDaniels (Doubtful, Ankle), Gordon Hayward (Out, Ankle)
MEMPHIS: Santi Aldama (Questionable, Foot), Dillon Brooks (Out, Ankle), Yves Pons (Out, Thigh), Xavier Tillman (Out, Thigh), Killian Tillie (Out, Back)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
CHARLOTTE: LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre, Miles Brides, Mason Plumlee
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
The Memphis Grizzlies remain intact following Thursday’s trade deadline. I feel it’s was the best position to stand pat as this team is rolling. They are already playing with house money as they are way ahead of the timeline, and it feels like they are a legit contender with how they are constructed.
Plus, they will get Dillon Brooks back sometime, hopefully soon.
They have three more games ahead of the All-Star break, and unlike most teams, the Grizzlies may not be looking forward to the break. Sure, the guys need their rest and it will be nice to see Ja Morant and Desmond Bane get their shine over the weekend; but this team is arguably playing its best ball of the season — everything just looks so easy.
While the next three games are against teams in the bottom half of their respective conferences (Hornets, Pelicans, Blazers), the Grizzlies are a dismal 1-4 against these teams. That includes a 118-108 defeat at home to these Hornets in November.
In that loss Kelly Oubre went off for 37 points off the bench, and the Hornets used a strong 2nd quarter to get a lead, and were able to fend off the Grizzlies down the stretch. This time the Grizzlies will be without Dillon Brooks, while Gordon Hayward will be missing for the Hornets.
As easy as it would be to just say the Grizzlies need to just keep doing what they are doing, I found a couple of more specific keys to the game for the Grizzlies to get a season split in the Queen City.
Very few people will argue against Ja Morant being the best player in tonight’s game. But there is the potential for the Hornets backcourt to outplay that of the Grizzlies. Terry Rozier put up a triple-double last night in the Hornets throttling of the Pistons; LaMelo has put up two triple-doubles in the last month — both in wins.
On the other side, Ja has played at an MVP type level all season long. And it appears that Desmond Bane may have broken out of his mini slump against Detroit.
In the first matchup, while Oubre led the Hornets with 37, Hayward did have 25. So, if Oubre goes off again, along with getting some help from either Ball or Rozier, the Grizzlies could be in trouble. But if Bane and Ja are both clicking, that should be more than enough.
Fill It Up
Both of these teams are in the Top-7 in the league when it comes to pace, so expect a lot of points tonight. The Grizzlies have scored at least 130 points in their last three games. In fact, the Grizzlies have scored at least 100 points in their last 26 wins — at least 110 in 21 of those. The last time the Grizzlies failed to score triple-digits in a win was December 4th — strangely enough, the game after they put up 152 points in the historic 73 point win over OKC.
While scoring at least 100 points isn’t automatically a win for the Grizzlies, scoring less than that is nearly a guarantee to tally another one in the loss column.
The Hornets are playing on the second game of a back to back. While it was against Detroit, a team the Grizzlies just dominated, they still had to play last night. I think the Grizzlies continue their winning ways.
Right now, Vegas has the line at Grizzlies -7.5. When the Grizzlies win, they cover — the last time they didn’t cover when they won was against the Lakers back on December 29th — that’s 17 straight. They also cover better on the road than at home at 20-8, the best in the league. The over has also hit in their last 5 games.
Final: Grizzlies 126, Hornets 110