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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Phoenix Suns Game Preview

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Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (54-23, 28-10 home) vs. Phoenix Suns (62-14, 31-6 road)

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

WHERE: FedExForum — Memphis, TN

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT:

Memphis: Ja Morant (Out, Knee Soreness), Killian Tillie (Out, Knee Soreness), Desmond Bane (Doubtful, Ankle Soreness), Steven Adams (Doubtful, Calf Soreness), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Doubtful, Return from Injury Management — Thigh Soreness), Tyus Jones (Doubtful, Hand Soreness)

Phoenix: Cam Johnson (Out, Quadriceps), Frank Kaminsky (Out, Knee), Dario Saric (Out, Torn ACL)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:

MEMPHIS: (let me try to guess here) ... De’Anthony Melton, John Konchar, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Xavier Tillman

PHOENIX: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Deandre Ayton

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Your Memphis Grizzlies are now the Southwest Division Champions and the 2nd seed in the Western Conference.

Rejoice! Now, go face the Phoenix Suns, the only team ahead of you in the standings.

Well, kinda.

The Memphis Grizzlies look to be resting rotation players, as 4 of their 5 starters from the past several games will be listed as “doubtful” in this game. Here’s hoping that the Suns match their energy. The De’Anthony Melton and Cameron Payne matchup is one we all need the thrill to enjoy on a Friday night.

Nonetheless, this is something these two teams deserve at this stretch of the season.

The Grizzlies are rolling right now, winning their past 6 games — and 10 of their past 11 contests. That’s white hot.

On the other side, the Suns are as hot as…the sun.

I’m sorry.

The Suns have won 9 games in a row, and they’re looking to net their 3rd winning streak of 10+ games of the season. They are also far-and-away the best team in the NBA, as they’re up on your 2nd-place Memphis Grizzlies by 8.5 games.

For the Grizzlies, their stretch of excellence since December has played a role in them getting a comfortable margin against the 3-7 pack of the Western Conference for 2nd place. They will need to strike a balance of making sure their guys are getting their rest but also ensuring they can keep this rhythm up over the last 10 days of the regular season.

Anyways, what should we point out in this April Fools Day showdown?

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

A coaching exhibition against two of the NBA’s best

When it comes to the “Coach of the Year” conversation, it should start with Monty Williams and Taylor Jenkins.

Monty Williams has led this Suns team to the top of the league by a landslide, proving that last year’s run to the Finals wasn’t some fluke. They’re an elite team by all accounts — top 3 in both offensive and defensive rating. They share the ball at an extraordinary rate, averaging 27.3 assists per game (4th in the league), while taking care of the ball at an elite level with a 2.12 assist-to-turnover ratio as a team. They have a great cast of stars and role players that all fit together, and Williams has developed a structure that makes this a well-oiled machine.

The same can be said for Taylor Jenkins, who has been the architect of the league’s most surprising team this season. They fall in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating. The defense, in particular, has been designed to just generate havoc that leads to transition offense. They’re the league leaders in steals per game, blocks per game, fastbreak points, and points added per 100 possessions in transition — per Cleaning the Glass.

I was going to have this section about how this game may be decided by the chess match between these two coaches. It’s not going to hit the same though with so many likely out for Memphis. Nonetheless, I’m keeping this section here, because these two coaches deserve their flowers for the extraordinary job they’ve done to get their teams to separate themselves from the pack.

Hopefully we’re talking about a chess match between these two coaches in May.

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Relax. Enjoy.

The Memphis Grizzlies have their playoff seeding and division locked up. They’re going to focus on staying fresh for the postseason. Tonight is an indication of that.

So with that, do not absolutely stress about this game. Like seriously, don’t. There’s no reason to do so.

In fact, just enjoy it and relax. Dillon Brooks is going to get the greenest light he’s had since those tank-tastic teams in his rookie season. De’Anthony Melton will continue his run as the hottest shooter on the planet. There will be time for John Konchar and Ziaire Williams to do more with the ball in their hands. We’ll likely get some main-roster action for Santi Aldama and maybe Yves Pons. The box scores and lineups might get a little funky.

There’s no pressure in this game whatsoever. Save the stress for the playoffs, which start in 2 weeks for your Southwest division champion Memphis Grizzlies.

PREDICTION - “Southwest division champion Memphis Grizzlies” remains fun to say, no matter how many NBA fans make fun of us.

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