The Grizzlies have a full slate of games in the next 6 days. Half of them are against familiar opponents. They will also face two unfamiliar opponents, including one who just got a huge face lift.
Monday, November 12th vs Utah Jazz (6-6)
A team that many thought would be a top tier in the West, Utah has struggle to meet expectations so far this season. Part of this has been the nagging injury to Donovan Mitchell which has caused him to miss some time.
Memphis has already played Utah twice this season, both in Utah, and won each of those contests. The cumulative score of those two matchups sits at 184-202 in favor of Memphis.
While he still earned 28 rebounds in the first two games against Memphis, Rudy Gobert was held to 20 total points by Marc Gasol in those matchups. The Jazz have one of the NBA’s better offenses, averaging 111.6 points per game. If guys like Ingles and Mitchell get hot then that will present a challenge for Memphis, especially if Dillon Brooks is unable to go due to his recent knee injury. This would put Memphis short on the wings from a defensive standpoint with more run for MarShon Brooks, who is not known for his performance on the defensive side of the ball.
Probable Starters: Ricky Rubio (10p/7a), Donovan Mitchell (22p/4a), Joe Ingles (13p/4r/4a), Derrick Favors (11p/7r), Rudy Gobert (16p/13r)
Key Bench Players: Jae Crowder (14p/5r), Dante Exum (7p/2r)
Key Injuries: Ricky Rubio (back, day-to-day)
Wednesday, November 14th @ Milwaukee Bucks (10-3)
This game will be a huge test for Memphis on the road. The Bucks have played the toughest schedule in the NBA and have fared very well, including last week when they put a 23 point whooping on the Warriors at Golden State.
Amazingly talented PF Giannis Antetokounmpo is the motor for this team. He is top ten in the NBA in both points and rebounds per game. One third of all the Bucks plays will go through him when he is on the floor. He continually finds ways to get to the rim. This is proven by the fact that 73% of his shots are taken within 10 feet of the goal, with nearly 30% of his shots resulting in dunks. Wow! Of course, this 6-11 superstar can also guard all 5 positions. Basketball-Reference literally has him listed as a ” Small Forward and Power Forward and Point Guard and Shooting Guard.”
On the wing, Kris Middleton is also a huge scoring option for the Bucks. Middleton is hitting 3.5 threes per game on 45% shooting. Their starter at center, Brook Lopez, is shooting 3’s at a career clip of 41% on 7.2 attempts per game. This Bucks team leads the league in 3 point attempts and collectively hits them at 37.6%. With this outside shooting scheme plus Giannis’ ability to get to the rim, it is easy to see why the Bucks have the third best offense in the league.
Oh, and they also have the second best defense too…this will definitely be a test for the Grizzlies.
Probable Starters: Eric Bledsoe (13p/5a), Malcolm Brogdon (14p/3a), Kris Middleton (19p/5r), Giannis Antetokounmpo (25p/13r), Brook Lopez (13p/3r)
Key Bench Players: Ersan Ilyasova (8p/6r), Donte DiVencenzo (6p/3r)
Key Injuries: n/a
Friday, November 16th vs Sacramento Kings (7-6)
To many, this Sacramento Kings team is overachieving. Before the start of the season, this was a roster predicted to finish at the bottom of the West – of course this could still be the case. Memphis dropped a game at their place on the West coast earlier in the season and now that loss doesn’t look quite as bad.
Shooting guard Buddy Hield continues to show improvement on offense and is averaging almost 20 points per game and is shooting 43% from three. Rookie Marvin Bagley III is fourth among rookies in both rebound and points per game, despite coming off the bench for the Kings.
I know this may sound redundant if you read The Barn and its previews, but this game will be decided by pace. The Kings lead the league in that category and it will be up to Mike Conley and Co. to settle the game down at home and take Sacramento out of their fast-paced rhythm. There are no easy games in the NBA. The Kings are certainly one of the surprises of the season and Memphis will need to play to the slower, preferred pace – especially since this will be their third game of the week. If the Kings are running and gunning early, then it could pose an immediate issue to the Grizz and their veteran roster.
Probable Starters: DeAaron Fox (18p/7a), Buddy Hield (19p/5r), Iman Shumpert (9p/3r), Nemaja Bjelica (12p/5r), Willie Cauley-Stein (16p/8r)
Key Bench Players: Marvin Bagley (12p/5r), Justin Jackson (6p/2r)
Key Injuries: n/a
Sunday, November 18th @ Minnesota Timberwolves (4-9)
Things have not gone as planned this year for the Minnesota Timberwolves. They have the worst defense in the league and have been all out of sorts this year after squeaking into the playoffs last year as the 8th seed.
Memphis will have the pleasure of being one of the first teams to face the Jimmy Butler-less Timberwolves, who traded him to the 76ers for Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless, and a future second round pick. Whew. That’s a lot.
Not known for his outside shooting, Andrew Wiggins is playing in his fifth season and now hitting 39% of his shots from deep. He is taking more shots from beyond the arc than any previous season, and also taking fewer two point shots, which is causing him to get to the free throw line less.
Karl Anthony-Towns is the big man down low for Minnesota who is also shooting more from three than any previous season. See a trend here? Towns is a historically weak defender and his effort on that side of the ball frequently comes into question. Look to Marc and Jaren to exploit the Wolves down low.
The additions of Dario Saric and Robert Covington will give them more depth and also help out their defense on the wing as RoCo is a massive upgrade from Jimmy Butler on D. Look to see the team’s scoring spread out a little more as they bring in two guys that are versatile and can get buckets in a variety of ways.
Probable Starters (if they can play): Jeff Teague (12p/6r), Robert Covington (11p/5r), Andrew Wiggins (17p/3r), Karl Anthony-Towns (19p/10r), Dario Saric (11p/6r)
Key Bench Players: Taj Gibson (11p/7r), Tyus Jones (5p/3r)
Key Injuries: Andrew Wiggins (quad/ day-to-day), Jeff Teague (knee/day-to-day), Jerryd Bayless (knee/out), Derrick Rose (face/day-to-day)