WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
LOS ANGELES: Paul George (Out, elbow), Kawhi Leonard (Out, knee), Jason Preston (Out, foot), Jay Scrubb (Out, toe)
MEMPHIS: Santi Aldama (Out, foot), Dillon Brooks (Out, ankle), Yves Pons (Out, thigh), Killian Tillie (Out, back)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
LOS ANGELES: Reggie Jackson, Amir Coffey, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
The Grizzlies return to the friendly confines of FedExForum after spending a week and a half on the road. It has been a weird stretch for the Grizzlies who haven’t played at home in 10 days, but come home after just a 3 game road trip. The Grizzlies went 2-1 on the trip following Saturday afternoon’s dominance over the Orlando Magic. Both Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. are hoping FedExForum is filled up tonight as the Grizzlies host the Clippers.
The Clippers are fresh off an aggressive pre-trade deadline move that saw them acquire Norman Powell and Robert Covington for basically nothing (no offense Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and 2025 second round pick). It was an aggressive transaction by the Clippers who have stayed relevant this season despite no Kawhi Leonard and just 26 games from Paul George.
The Clippers will be a tough out even without their two stars, here’s what the Grizzlies need to do to keep L.A. at bay.
Attack Early and Often
The Grizzlies are coming off a stretch where they are playing their 3rd game in 7 nights, a soft run schedule-wise you don’t get often in the NBA season. The Grizzlies have had 2 days off since the win in Orlando, and Memphis has found success this season with time off, going 8-2 in games after having 2 days off. Still, going from playing so many games and then suddenly having a break can throw players off. The easiest way to get back into a rhythm early is for Memphis to do what they do best: attack the paint. Getting good and easy looks at the rim will fuel help fuel the offense and should help the team from looking “rusty” early on. Considering the team is average, or below average, in various 3-point shooting categories it is always advantageous for them to attack the paint where they score a league leading 56.8 points in the paint.
Norman Powell - the Grizz Killer?
Norman Powell has blossomed offensively, especially after his trade to Portland last season as he’s averaged over 18 points per game the past two seasons. He teamed up with known Grizz killer CJ McColllum while in Portland to make things difficult for the Grizzlies defense. In two games this season (with Portland) Powell is averaging 26.5 points per game against Memphis. If you want to include last season, Powell is averaging 22.6 points per game against the Grizzlies the last two seasons (6 games). Powell’s point production only figures to grow for a not-so-great Clippers offense that lacks offensive firepower. In his first game with the Clippers, Powell scored 28 points off the bench in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s unclear if Powell will be starting or coming off the bench in his second game with LA, but he’ll definitely be their point of attack on offense. The Grizzlies will need to throw multiple bodies at him to slow him down and try and force him into a bad shooting night.
Is there such thing as too much rest? According to Amerisleep, most experts say “over nine hours” is considered excessive sleep for adults. They unfortunately did not have a conversion chart for nights off in the NBA but the point remains: there is indeed such thing as too much rest. The Grizzlies have been riding high with a ton of momentum since right after Christmas. They haven’t really had a break this long all season, so it will be interesting to see how they start the game. A quick start could put the Clippers behind the 8-ball early and Memphis could cruise like they did in Orlando.
The Clippers are a feisty bunch without their two stars, and got better by acquiring Powell and Covington. Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris are serviceable vets, and Luke Kennard has been playing well of late. The Clippers will fight if you let them, as seen by their 35-point comeback the other week against the Washington Wizards.
We’ve seen the Grizzlies remain focused and sharp for the great part of the last two months and I wouldn’t expect that to change now. They may start out a little slow, but they’ll put away the Clippers in the second half and keep on with their winning ways.
Memphis 115, Los Angeles 105