WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: NBA TV/Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
BETTING INFORMATION (per DraftKings) - Memphis (-9.5), O/U 230
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Doubtful, ankle)
NEW YORK: Obi Toppin (Questionable, hamstring), Quentin Grimes (Out, knee), Nerlens Noel (Out, foot) Cam Reddish (Out, shoulder), Derrick Rose (Out, ankle)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
NEW YORK: Alec Burks, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson
The Grizzlies, fresh off dominance over the New Orleans Pelicans on TNT on Tuesday, are set to wrap up their season series against the New York Knicks at FedExForum on NBATV. Ja Morant and the Grizzlies have had quite a few games flexed onto NBA TV as the hype around the Grizzlies builds. The Knicks season has been inconsistent at best, and that’s putting it nicely. They lost 7 games in a row, but have since responded with a 3 game win streak. They’re a tough team to figure out as they sometimes look like the team of last year, who skyrocketed into the playoffs for the first time in what felt like forever, and then other times look like the Knicks we’ve grown accustomed to over the last few years.
The Knicks still obviously have the talent to make things difficult, regardless of who they are playing. Here are some keys to tonight’s game.
The Knicks are one of the slowest teams in the NBA. They like to slow the game down and play in the half-court. Whether it’s the blog, other NBA sites, or even just Twitter, the biggest question for the Grizzlies come playoff time is their half-court execution. Tonight’s matchup should be a good test for that. Any Tom Thibodeau team will be good defensively, and the Knicks have the size to cause Ja Morant and the Grizzlies some problems. The Grizzlies struggled as recently as last Sunday when the game was slowed down and with little flow, but controlled the pace of the game in Tuesday’s dominance. The Grizzlies will need to establish their pace, but also execute on the offensive end. With Mitchell Robinson as a solid rim-protector, the Grizzlies need to get creative when attacking the paint tonight.
The Jaren Jackson Jr. resurgence
After mostly struggling since the All Star Break, JJJ broke out with a monster performance on Tuesday. Nobody on the Pelicans roster could stop him as he finished with 22 points on 7-13 shooting. JJJ should be able to get whatever he wants to offensively against Julius Randle. Look for JJJ to continue to be aggressive and attack the basket with the starting units on the floor. Even though his 3-point shot isn’t falling to his standard, the threat of JJJ from beyond the arc will force Mitchell Robinson away from the rim when he has the JJJ assignment.
That will help open the driving lanes for Ja Morant. Jaren Jackson Jr. can be great, but in the matchup against the Knicks he can really be an X-factor even if he isn’t scoring a ton of points. The threat of JJJ causes all sorts of issues for the Knicks. If he’s locked in and engaged it could be very problematic for the Knicks. For what it’s worth, JJJ had 26 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks against the Knicks in their first matchup.
The Knicks are a weird team to figure out. They lost to the Chris Paul and Devin Booker-less Suns but turn around and beat Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks by 30. The Grizzlies, favored by 9.5 points according to DraftKings, is a tricky line. The Grizzlies won by 12 in the last meeting after leading by as many as 19. Dillon Brooks’ return is imminent, but I ultimately don’t expect him to make his return until next game.
Despite exorcizing some demons against the Pelicans on Tuesday, the Grizzlies are still 4-3 since the All Star Break. The Grizzlies win, but I'm not sold they cover against a Knicks team desperate to stay in the playoff picture. The Knicks will control the pace just enough to keep things close.
Memphis 105, New York 99