Well folks, we have a tough week ahead of us. Memphis faces two of the top teams in the West in Golden State and Denver to start off the week and then two of the most exciting young guns in the East in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with the 76ers.
Monday, November 5th @ Golden State Warriors 9:30 cst
So…this one should be interesting. Memphis will be coming off the second night of a back-to-back, playing in Phoenix on Saturday. Could this be an opportunity to rest some guys knowing that you have several benchmark games coming up later in the week?
As you would expect with the kind of numbers their studs are putting up, Golden State owns the best offense in the NBA and leads essentially all scoring categories. They play top third in pace and are shooting 41% from three on 32 attempts per game. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson are their offensive workhorses, accounting for 65% of their total team points between the three of them. Steph currently leads the league in points per game and is playing on par or better than his two MVP seasons.
The one morsel of hope to hold on to is: Golden State has played one of the weakest schedules so far. Potentially, our defense could provide a change of pace and challenge them in a fashion they have not frequently encountered.
Possible Starters: Stephen Curry (32p/5r/6a), Klay Thompson (19p/4r), Kevin Durant (28p/7r/5a), Draymond Green (8p/4r), Damian Jones (6p/2r)
Key Bench Players: Andre Iguodala (2p/3a), Kevin Looney (5p/4r), Jonas Jerebko (7
Key Injuries: Shaun Livingston, DeMarcus Cousins
Wednesday, November 7th vs Denver Nuggets 7:00 cst
The Nuggest will come to Memphis after starting off the week at home against the Eastern conference powerhouse Boston Celtics. Similar to Memphis, the Nuggets have made their name this season through defense and controlling the pace. The Nuggets currently have the third best defense in the league and hold down the pace of play at 26th with 98 possessions per 48 minutes, only a few possessions “faster” than the Grizzlies. Expect a grinder of a game that will bring joy to old school basketball fans.
Center Nikola Jokic is 23 years old and anchors their defense similar to another European center we are all familiar with. The Gasol comparisons don’t stop there. Jokic is a well rounded big man who makes sure to do the simple things right to help his team win.
— NBA (@NBA) November 4, 2018
This Nuggets team is extremely young. Only Paul Millsap , Isaiah Thomas, and Will Barton have more than 5 years of NBA experience.
Denver has four guys – plus borderline Trey Lyles – who average in double figures. So far this season, Nikola Jokic is the only Nugget to score over 30 points, which he did against Phoenix in the second game of the season, when he amassed a 35-11-11 triple double against top draft pick Deandre Ayton.
Denver is projected as a playoff team by most analysts and this is a game that Grizzlies fans should circle on their calendar, making sure that they put eyes on a solid team with a similar, albeit younger, makeup.
Possible Starters: Gary Harris (18p/3a), Jamal Murray (15p/4r/3a), Torrey Craig (4p/4r), Paul Millsap (13p/7r), Nikola Jokic (18p/10r/7a)
Key Bench Players: Monte Morris (7p/3a), Trey Lyles (9p/5r), Mason Plumlee (7p/4r)
Key Injuries: Will Barton (hip), Isaiah Thomas (hip)
Saturday, November 10th vs Philadelphia 76ers 7:00 cst
Joel Embiid is back and appears to be healthy, playing all of Philly’s games so far this season and averaging 34 minutes in each of those games.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) November 4, 2018
This season, Philly has feasted at the line, leading the league in free throw attempts, a testament to their physical style of play and ability to get to the rim. Like Denver, they are a defensively capable team, rating in the top third in the league.
Ben Simmons and Embiid continue to grow as a fascinating core in the East. You have a big man who shoots 4.5 threes per game, and a PG who hasn’t attempted a three all year but is averaging near a triple double. Riddle me that. I guess with a motto like Joel’s, it’s all good when you are an NBA superstar.
Life is fun and I love having fun
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) November 3, 2018
One interesting fact about this team is that their second leading scorer, J.J. Redick, doesn’t start, but averages over 30 minutes per game off the bench. Markelle Fultz draws the starts over JJ, but Redick earns the lion’s share of the minutes at SG slot because of his ability to hit the three ball, jacking up almost 9 attempts from deep per game.
Possible Starters: Ben Simmons (13p/9r/8a, Markelle Fultz (9p/4r), Robert Covington (12p/5r), Dario Saric (9p/6r), Joel Embiid (29p/12r)
Key Bench Players: JJ Redick (18P/3R), Landry Shamet (7p/1r), Mike Muscala (8p/4r)
Key Injuries: Jeryyd Bayless