After a five game win streak, the Grizzlies are now on a two game skid after falling to the Clippers on the road and the Knicks at home. This week the Grizzlies will face a three game slate of Eastern Conference foes. Both the Raptors and 76ers are in the upper echelon of East teams, while the Nets are currently a hair out of the playoff race after a freak injury to an up and coming star player.
All stats are current as of Monday, November 26th
Tuesday, November 27th vs Toronto Raptors (17-4)
Even with an All-Star swap, the Raptors find themselves in familiar territory at the top of the Eastern Conference. New coach Nick Nurse has opted to sit superstar Kawhi Leonard (24p/8r) for rest purposes quite frequently this season, as Leonard has only played in 15 of the team’s 21 games. Memphis will probably not be the beneficiary of such luck, since the last game was on Sunday, giving the squad a full day’s rest.
When Leonard is on the floor – he is fifth in minutes on the team – everything runs through him with a usage rate of 30%. Point guard Kyle Lowry (15p/10a) currently leads the league in assists and has been more of a distributor this season, averaging his fewest points per game since the 2012-2013 season.
In his third NBA season out of New Mexico State, Raptors PF Pascal Siakam (14p/6r) is achieving twice his career average in scoring and is shooting 69% on non-three point field goals.
Toronto’s Center, Jonas Valanciunas (13p/7r), has been in and out of the starting lineup this season for the Raptors, but has started the last three games. On the defensive side of the ball, Valanciunas owns a rating of 99.8 per NBA.com. This is only a tick behind Memphis’ Marc Gasol and Jaren Jackson Jr, and good enough for 5th among centers who have played in 10 or more games and average 15 or more minutes per game.
Familiar foe, Serge Ibaka (16p/8r) is second on the team in both points and rebounds per game. Even though Valanciunas might draw the start, expect to see a heavy dose of Ibaka.
Just like last year, the Raptors are a well rounded team. They are a top 5 offensive team and a top 10 defensive team. Five Raptors average in double figures, and three guys average 9 points per game. Kyle Lowry and former Spur Danny Green (9p/3r/43% from three) are responsible for most of the three point attempts on a daily basis from the Raptors.
Key injuries: Norman Powell (shoulder/out)
Friday, November 30 @ Brooklyn Nets
A few weeks ago, the Nets lost their leading scorer, Caris LeVert (18p/4r) to a freak leg injury. Since then, a handful of guys have stepped up to carry the scoring burden. D’Angelo Russell (17p/5a) and Spencer Dinwiddie (15p/5a) are each averaging 19.7 ppg over the last 7 games with Jarrett Allen (12p/8r) putting in 14.7 ppg.
The Nets currently rank second in the league in 3 pointers made per game, despite being middle of the pack in 3P%. Their defense ranks 26th in the league as they give up 112.9 points per 100 possessions. Brooklyn is very turnover prone, averaging 13.9 giveaways per game. It will be key for Memphis to take advantage of these miscues.
Joe Harris (13p/3r) continues to improve for the Nets and is shooting 43% from deep on over 5 attempts per game. He has made three or more shots from beyond the arc 9 times this season. That’s a guy that Memphis will have to keep an eye on out on the perimeter.
In the front court, Jarrett Allen (12p/8r) is averaging nearly a double double and adding 1.6 blocks per game. Allen is actually the only starter for Brooklyn who is helping the team average a “substantial” positive +/- (4.1) when on the floor. Veteran Ed Davis (6p/8r) comes off the bench for the Nets and cleans up the glass in his 17 minutes per game.
Point guard D’Angelo Russell is now 22 years old and in his fourth season in the NBA. He can score from all over the floor as 59% of his shots are inside the arc and 41% are from beyond it. Off the bench, guard Spencer Dinwiddie is having one of his best seasons offensively, shooting 38% from three.%.
The keys to the game will involve guarding the perimeter, hauling in rebounds, and preventing second chance points — Brooklyn is 3rd in the league in offensive rebounding.
Key injuries: Caris LeVert (ankle/out)
Sunday, December 2nd @ Philadelphia 76ers (14-8)
The last time that Memphis squared off against the 76ers, it was during the transition period post Saric/RoCo and pre-Butler. The 76ers only had 9 men available for that game, but it took extra time for the Grizzlies to wear them down for the home victory. Since Jimmy Butler (20p/4r) has joined Philly, they have gone 5-2.
It’s no secret that Joel Embiid (28p/13r) and Ben Simmons (15p/8r/7a) are two of the more talented youngsters in the league. Markelle Fultz (8p/3r) was supposed to be the third wheel in their crew, but now is on the shelf with mysterious shoulder issues and is also supposedly desiring a trade. Now that he is out of the picture for now, J.J. Redick (18p/3r) is getting the starting nod and opening up the floor with his consistent 3 point shot — he is currently hitting 35% of his nearly 8 3PA per game.
The current starting lineup is plus 23 in bpm, and is the best combination of their roster since the trade according to PBPstats.com.
Off the bench, Brett Brown relies heavily on Mike Muscala (7p/4r) and Landry Shamet (8p), who each play over 20 minutes.
Philly is a very fast paced (7th) team who leads the league in points per game (114.11) and rebounds (47.6). They also get to the line more than any other team in the NBA. The Grizzlies will have their hands full with offense coming at them from all sides. It will need to be an all hands on deck defensive effort by Memphis in order to give them a shot.
Key injuries: (Markelle Fultz (shoulder/out)