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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Phoenix Suns Game Preview

Can the Memphis Grizzlies extend their winning streak to 10 games on the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Game?

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Chicago Bulls v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (29-13, 18-3 at home) vs. Phoenix Suns (21-23, 7-16 away)

WHEN: 5:00 PM CT

WHERE: FedExForum, Memphis, TN

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

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant (Questionable, LT Hip Soreness), John Konchar (Questionable, Non-COVID Illness), Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Out, Two-Way Transfer), Danny Green (Out, Knee)

Phoenix: Chris Paul (OUT, Hip), Cameron Johnson (Knee, OUT), Cameron Payne (OUT, Foot), Jae Crowder (OUT, Not Injury Related), Devin Booker (OUT, Groin)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:

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

Phoenix: Duane Washington Jr., Miles Bridges, Torrey Craig, Dario Saric, Deandre Ayton


This offseason a lot of positive things happened for the Memphis Grizzlies. One being their national recognition for arriving despite a second round exit against the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors happened leaguewide.

The league rewarded the Grizzlies with their first Christmas Day game. It was a huge moment not just for the franchise, but for the city of Memphis. You can’t downplay the magnitude of playing on Christmas Day... It just felt different.

Tonight, Memphis plays on another National Holiday that has always been “their game” in my mind in Martin Luther King Jr., day. To me, it’s always been Memphis’ day to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King.

Over the years, more games have been added to the NBA’s schedule on MLK Day, but Memphis just does it differently. The celebration of life, the lessons, and shedding light on just how important Dr. King was to this nation, and to the city of Memphis — it’s bigger than the game today...

However, there is a really good matchup on tap to cap off a day of Celebrating the King, between the Grizzlies and the injured Suns. Oh, and Memphis is going for their 10th straight victory.

Will Ja Morant play tonight?

Currently listed as questionable with left hip soreness, Morant has been battling that hip soreness for a week or so. Memphis will be taking on a Phoenix team that is a shell of what they are supposed to be due to injuries.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers coming in Wednesday night, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Taylor Jenkins rest Ja Morant and focus on the long term goal of being healthy and competing for a NBA Championship. Memphis heads out west on Friday for a five-game road trip in seven nights.

The scheduling just doesn’t favor Memphis in the coming weeks in terms of rest, especially for guys that are sore, or need additional rest. I look for Jenkins to sit Morant tonight.

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Five Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This could get ugly fast...

It honestly could get ugly even without Morant tonight (if he is out). Since the Suns victory over the Grizzlies on December 27th, Phoenix is 1-8. In those 8 losses, the Suns are losing by an average of 12.6 points in terms of differential.

If you flip to the Grizzlies, whom are on a nine-game winning streak and playing their basketball of the season, the conclusion to this one may already be decided... statistically. We still have game to go play, and that’s the fun part about these games. Any given night, a team can be upset.

The spread as of Sunday night is 10.5 in favor of the Grizzlies, and I highly advise you take that spread. The Grizzlies offense has been flourishing since late December, averaging 122.4 points per game, while the Suns are last in the NBA at 103 points per game. That’s double the odds in your favor.

Keeping Playing Defense:

The Grizzlies have to keep playing defense, because that is what has made their offense thrive. Early in the season, Memphis was letting random perimeter guys shoot like JJ Redick and Steph Curry. Since, Memphis has found their groove defensively. Since December 27th, Memphis is second in the NBA in defensive rating, while the Suns sit at the middle of the pack.

The Prediction:

First, I don’t think we see Ja Morant tonight. Secondly, I think the Grizzlies come out of the gates running on both ends of the floor. The Suns just don’t have their normal firepower without Chris Paul and Devin Booker. With that being said, I think Memphis takes this one by 15 or more.

Phoenix 102, Memphis 124

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