The Grizzlies will head into week 6 with a 10-5 record and a three game winning streak. JaMychal Green is back from a facial injury he received early in the season and things seem to be going well. Don’t get too comfortable though. Any week that has the Spurs and Clippers in it means that there will be a battle. Don’t sleep on the young Mavs either as they have the potential to be a tough matchup. Memphis will also face its former coach David Fizdale to cap off the week.
Monday, November 19th vs Dallas Mavericks (7-8)
The Mavs. If you’re a basketball nerd, then you have been looking forward to this game all season. The highly debated and discussed 19 year old rookie, Luka Doncic, has not disappointed. He leads this newcomer class in minutes played, points per game, several shooting categories, and is top five in essentially the rest of the notable categories.
Despite the stellar play of Doncic, this team owns a losing record, but they are potentially on the cusp of the back end of their rebuild. They are just outside the top ten in the league in both offense and defense, so with just a few lucky breaks, their record could be flipped a bit.
Former Clipper big man DeAndre Jordan signed with the Mavericks during this off-season and picked up right where he left off as a double-double machine. Get this…now he can actually shoot free throws! He is a career 45% FT shooter but is hitting 81% of his shots from the charity stripe this season. No more Hack-a-DeAndre.
Wesley Matthews (who is day-to-day) and Luka are their biggest threats from beyond the arc. They are each shooting over 6 attempts per game and make 38% combined. Harrison Barnes was dealing with injuries injuries early in the season, but now is back into the flow and averaging a bucket less than his previous Dallas seasons. With the addition of Doncic, Barnes’ usages has seen a dip of several percentage points.
This game will be important for Memphis to play their methodical game and play solid defense per usual.
Possible starters: Luka Doncic (19p/6r/4a), DeAndre Jordan (10p/13r), Dennis Smith (14p/3a), Harrison Barnes (16p/5r), Wesley Matthews (16p)
Impact bench players: Dorian Finney-Smith (9p/4r), J.J. Barea (9p/5a), Dwight Powell (8p/3r)
Notable Injuries: Wesley Matthews (hamstring/day-to-day), J.J Barea (adducter/out), Dwight Powell (knee/out)
Wednesday, November 21st @ San Antonio Spurs (8-7)
The Spurs are out here doing Spurs things, elongating careers and quietly winning games. On Sunday, the Spurs even downed the Warriors, showing that they can still hang with the best of them – even though Golden State was Steph-less.
This team is different from some of the past San Antonio teams, yet it is also the same. Coming off their major trade this Summer that sent disgruntled superstar Kawhi Leonard to Toronto in exchange for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Pieltl, the Spurs have managed to stay above .500. Before the season started, the Spurs lost their maturing third year point guard Dejounte Murray to a knee injury. Now Pau Gasol is day-to-day. Oh, and don’t forget about Kyle Anderson, who the Spurs let walk on over to Beale Street after not matching Memphis’ qualifying offer. Despite all this, San Antonio is a franchise that remains relevant and can take your lunch on any given night.
This team has a long list of vets pulling most of the weight. Patty Mills is always a thorn in Memphis’ side coming off the bench. This year we should be more suited to handle him with a competent Shelvin Mack leading the second unit.
DeRozan is playing as good or better than his Toronto years, with his only decline coming from beyond the arc, where he is shooting a putrid 17%. LaMarcus Aldridge is rebounding at a higher level than last season, but not scoring as much. This is due to the fact that the Spurs now have a high level scorer back on the roster, which frees LaMarcus up to crash the boards more, where he is averaging 11.5 rebounds per game – 3 more than his career average.
Look for this to be a slow, methodical game. San Antonio plays at the 26th slowest pace in the league.
Possible starters: DeMar DeRozan (25p/6r/6a), LaMarcus Aldridge (17p/11r), Bryn Forbes (12p/2a), Dante Cunningham (4p/4r), Rudy Gay (14p/7r)
Key Bench Players: Patty Mills (9p/3r), Derrick White (7p/3a), Marco Belinelli (10p)
Notable Injuries: Pau Gasol (foot/day-to-day), Davis Bertans (concussion/day-to-day), Dejounte Murray (knee/out), Lonnie Walker (knee/December)
Friday, November 23rd @ Los Angeles Clippers (10-5)
The Clippers team that Memphis fans are used to hating no longer exists. CP3, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan are all on different rosters. Around half of their active roster is over 30 and they are relying heavily on veterans like bucket getter Lou Williams, Tobias Harris, Marcin Gortat, and Danilo Gallinari.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the 11th pick from this past Summer’s draft, has lived up to the billing for the Clips. He is currently playing 27.3 minutes per game and earning splits of 9.7p/3.3r/2.9a. He is accomplishing this efficiently, with a usage rate of under 17%.
Big man Montrezll Harrell is having the best season of his young career with Blake and DeAndre gone. He is a traditional Center in playing style, with 78% of his shots coming within 3 feet of the rim. He is currently rocking a PER of 26.2, which leads the team among those with more than 150 minutes played. He is no slouch on defense either, with a rating of 104 on that side of the ball.
This team has a lot of scorers and their offense is currently 3rd in the league, averaging 117.3 points per game. They are not long distance shooters, but get to the line the fifth most in the NBA, where they shoot 82% as a team.
Los Angeles presents a weird challenge without any perennial superstars on their roster. Who else does that remind you of?
Possible starters: Patrick Beverly (7p/4a), Danilo Gallinari (19p/5r), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (9p/3r), Marcin Gorta (5p/5r)t, Tobias Harris (20p/8r)
Key Bench Players: Montrezll Harrell (14p/6r), Lou Williams (19p/4a)
Notable Injuries: Avery Bradley (ankle/day-to-day), Luc Mbah a Moute (knee/out)
Sunday, November 25th vs New York Knicks (4-13)
Is this the first clearly tanking team that the Grizzlies have played this season? Probably the Hawks and maybe the Suns, but the Knicks are a sure thing. With their star Kristaps Porzingis out for the season due to knee injury, the Knicks are looking forward to the free agent sweepstakes of 2019. Former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale has been dealt a tough hand.
The Knicks have three rookies on their roster including the 2019 9th overall pick, Kevin Knox. Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier round out the trio. All three of these guys have played significant minutes for this Knicks ball club. Trier has actually played the 4th most minutes for the Knicks this season, despite being on a two-way contract.
Their most prolific scorer is Tim Hardaway Jr, who has blossomed this season and is averaging nearly 24 points per game, which is double his career average. This season he has the highest usage rate on the team. Also, his three point attempts have increased one and a half shots per game since last year and he is shooting 36% from deep.
Enes Kanter has come off the bench for most of the season and is averaging 15p/11r per game in a reserve role.
Emmanuel Mudiay could draw the start at PG, but is only averaging 2.8 assists per game. Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina will also get minutes at PG and they both average 3.2 assists per game.
Possible starters: Tim Hardaway (23p/3r), Kevin Knox (8p/2r), Emmanuel Mudiay (9p/2a), Mitchell Robinson (4p/4r), Allonzo Trier (11p/2r)
Key Bench Players: Frank Ntilikina (6p/3a), Damyean Dotson (10p/4r), Enes Kanter (15p/11r)
Notable Injuries: Courtney Lee (neck/out), Kristaps Porzingis (knee/out), Lance Thomas (knee/out), Mario Hezonja (ill/ day-to-day)