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Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans Game Preview

Ja Set to Return this Weekend

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New Orleans Pelicans v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

WHO: New Orleans Pelicans (36-44, 17-23 away) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (55-25, 29-10 home)

WHEN: 5:00 PM CT

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN

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

BETTING INFORMATION (per DraftKings) - Grizzlies -5.5; O/U 232.5

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant (Questionable, knee), Tyrell Terry (Out, foot), Killian Tillie (Out, knee), Jarrett Culver (Out, knee)

NEW ORLEANS: Brandon Ingram (Questionable, hamstring), Kira Lewis (Out, ACL/MCL), Zion Williamson (Out, foot)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams

NEW ORLEANS: CJ McCollum, Herbert Jones, Brandon Ingram, Jaxson Hayes, Jonas Valanciunas


Home sweet home.

The Memphis Grizzlies will close out the 2021-22 regular season with two home games. It’s been a special year already, and with just one win they will tie the franchise record for wins in a season, and if they sweep the weekend, they will break it.

While the record would be nice, these young Grizz have their eyes on a bigger prize — the Larry O’Brien trophy. That’s really what these last two games are about for the Grizzlies — preparing them for the postseason.

We are also expecting to see Ja Morant return after missing nine games due to a knee injury. He is listed as questionable on the injury report, but we have seen all year that usually when guys are listed as questionable, they play. On the flip side, Brandon Ingram’s playing status is up in the air.

Tonight’s game may not mean that much to the Grizzlies, it does give the Pelicans the chance to clinch a home game in the first play-in matchup against San Antonio. The Pelicans are playing some really good ball as of late, winning 7 of their last 10 with certified Grizz-killer CJ McCollum averaging nearly 25 points per game.

A win for the Grizzlies would not only tie a franchise record in wins, but also give the Grizzlies a win in the season series against New Orleans.

Normally, I would give keys to a Grizzlies victory for the night ahead. And while a victory would be fantastic, I’m looking ahead into what the Grizzlies can do tonight that will set them up for success once the Playoffs begin.

Houston Rockets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Lineups Matter

Tonight would be a good opportunity to get certain lineups some extra run. Due to injuries throughout the season, Taylor Jenkins has had to tinker with his lineups all year. Through 80 games, five lineups have played more than 100 minutes on the floor together and none of those five is the expected starting lineup for the playoffs of Ja Morant-Desmond Bane-Dillon Brooks-Jaren Jackson Jr.-Steven Adams. That starting lineup has only started nine games together and played a total of 96 minutes all year.

The good news is that in the small sample size, of the 10 most used lineups by the Grizzlies, that lineup has the best net rating of 22.4. To compare, the starting lineup with Ziaire instead of Dillon had a net rating of 4.2; and the lineup with Tyus instead of Ja was an 8.7.

Not only is it important to get the expected starting lineup some work together, but also other potential lineups just to see what you got. Of course, all bets are off in the playoffs, and Coach Jenkins has been great this year in making in-game adjustments, but it’s best to be prepared.

Get Back on Track

Let’s be real, the games for the Grizzlies this week mean a lot more for their opponents than it does them. The Grizzlies are set squarely in the two spot in the West. In the games earlier this week, both the Nuggets and Utah were playing for playoff positioning. The results showed it.

In the loss to Utah, they couldn’t get a shot to fall, while against Denver, they couldn’t get a stop.

I don’t think it’s anything to be worried about, but it would be nice to see the Grizzlies put together a complete game or two as they head into the playoffs. It will also give Ja Morant a chance to get back up to game speed.

New Orleans Pelicans v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Stay Healthy

This is the most important thing to get out of the game tonight — no injuries. The Grizzlies are battle-tested and have proven they thrive with the ‘next man up’ mentality. But, the best team is a healthy team.

No need to risk anything tonight.

Prediction

While the Grizzlies aren’t really playing for much, they aren’t going to take a night off. The Grizzlies are a better team if they treat tonight like they would any other regular season game. Their depth is just too much, especially if Brandon Ingram is out. The Grizzlies could also give the starters some minutes in the beginning, and let the bench take over. And as we have seen, like the win against Phoenix, they could still get it done.

The Pelicans do have CJ McCollum, who has a history of going nuclear against the Grizz, so he will be looking to take over once again, and Jonas Valanciunas would also love to show out against his former team.

The Memphis Grizzlies are favored by five and a half, and I think they cover that and the total goes over, but barely. This young team plays to win every game and I expect that again tonight to send the fans home happy.

Final: Grizz 122, Pelicans 113

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