WHERE: Madison Square Garden in New York, New York
WHEN: 6:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: ESPN/Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Steven Adams (Questionable, ankle), Dillon Brooks (Out, ankle)
NEW YORK: Derrick Rose (Out, ankle)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
NEW YORK: Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson
The Grizzlies continue their road trip with a trip to one of the most iconic arena’s in the NBA, Madison Square Garden. The Grizzlies will look to rebound from Monday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers with a big game against the Knicks. The Grizzlies will likely be motivated for this matchup after last week’s game against the San Antonio Spurs was flexed off of ESPN in favor of the Heat/Knicks matchup that saw the Knicks lose by 14 points in a mostly uncompetitive game. Ja Morant, in particular, made sure to acknowledge them being flexed off TV in a game he scored 41 points and 8 assists.
"Shoutout to whoever took us off TV...that was for you..." - Ja Morant— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 27, 2022
Motivation alone won’t win the game for Memphis. They had some real struggles against a 76ers squad missing Joel Embiid. Here are some keys for Memphis to pull out a win and put on a show in New York.
A Respectable 3-Point Showing
The Grizzlies shooting from beyond the arc was one of the worst performances I’ve seen from them this season. The Grizzlies shot 6-30 from distance, good for 20%. Desmond Bane, individually, shot 5-9 from beyond the arc. That left the non-Bane Grizzlies shooting a combined 1-21 from distance. The lone make came from Jaren Jackson Jr. with the Grizzlies first basket of the game. Outside of Bane, the Grizzlies shot 4.7% from beyond the arc. It was an extremely poor performance but the team has been struggling shooting the ball from deep, particularly lately.
The Grizzlies have shot a league worst 29.6% from three over their past 10 games. They’ve made double-digit triples just 3 times in those 10 games. A 3-point explosion would be nice, but even a performance like they had against Utah (9-23) would help them. They’ve found ways to win despite struggling from deep, but finding their 3-point shot would make things a lot easier for them.
Own the Paint
Assuming that the Grizzlies aren’t going to all of a sudden become super team Warriors-like from beyond the arc, they’ll need to dominate the paint like they normally do. The Grizzlies lead the NBA in points in the paint (56.7) but the Knicks defense allows the second-fewest points in the paint in the NBA, allowing just 41.3 points in the paint per game. The health of Steven Adams could play a major role in this one, with his ability to hoard offensive rebounds and create second chance opportunities.
The length and shot blocking ability of both Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel could make things more difficult for Ja Morant as he attacks the paint. The Knicks offensively struggle in the paint, but the Grizzlies will need to limit the easy looks they gave the 76ers the other night.
It’s been an extremely disappointing season in New York, which was filled with such hope and promise after earning the 4-seed in the Eastern Conference last season. It was all downhill once the playoffs started as the Knicks went 4-1 in their series to the Hawks and have struggled through the majority of this season. Julius Randle would have been the primary focus of this game preview a year ago, but he now feels like an afterthought compared to last season.
Randle is still a fine player, and RJ Barrett will be motivated to showcase his skills against the player selected right before him in the NBA Draft in Ja Morant. Regardless, I don’t think the Knicks have enough firepower to hang with a motivated Grizzlies team. I think the Grizzlies get it together and put on a show for the national audience and the MSG crowd.
Memphis 118, New York 105