Memphis finished out the month of November with a record of 9-6. This included a 5 game winnings streak and 3 game losing streak. Last month likely set the tone for the rest of the season and we should be prepared to experience more ups and downs as the Grizzlies’ role players surge and fall in their productivity.
This week the Grizzlies face off against both LA teams at home while taking a quick trip down to NOLA to play the Pelicans.
Wednesday, December 5th vs LA Clippers (16-7)
The Clippers continue to be one of the best teams in the league on offense with a top 5 rating. Tobias Harris (21p/8r/2a) just won Western Conference POTM awards for the month of November.
They have the highest scoring bench in the NBA (53.5 ppg) and a large part of that is due to the play of big man Montrezl Harrell (16p/7r) and bucket-getter Lou Williams (17p/4a). Imagine having that much fire power coming off the bench.
Harris and Danilo Gallinari (19p/6r) are both hitting multiple threes per game and helping to stretch the floor for a team that primarily relies on shots within the arc. They are bottom five in the league in 3PA, but top 5 in 3P%.
When these two teams faced off in LA last month, Mike Conley fouled out in absurd, rapid fire fashion, and Memphis could not muster a win in OT. In that game, Harrell led the Clippers with 22 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in 34 minutes of play. Danilo Gallinari also aided the cause with 20 points and was 5-8 from three.
In that matchup, Marc gasol led all scorers with 27 points and added 13 rebounds. Mike Conley contributed 19 and Jaren Jackson Jr. added 20 of his own. Hopefully the home court will provide some form of advantage for the Grizzlies and they can topple the Clippers.
Friday, December 7th @ New Orleans Pelicans (12-13)
The Pelicans have a big man off the bench that will be a key to this matchup. Julius Randle (18p/9r) is fresh off a 37 point performance against the Clippers on Monday and could look to keep the buckets coming against the Grizzlies. Might we see some action against the newest Grizz reserve, Joakim Noah?
Anthony Davis (28p/13r/4a/2b) is the focal point of this team with a 28% usage rate. He has scored 30 or more points in 8 games already this season and hauled in double digit rebounds in 16 contests. This five time All-Star is looking as good as ever and is averaging a career high 37.5 minutes per game.
Guard Jrue Holiday is the second leading scorer for the Pelicans, contributing 20.6 points per game and dishing out 9 assists. He only shoots 28% from three and does most his damage from inside the arc, where he shoots 55%.
Big man Nikola Mirotic has matured well at New Orleans, averaging 18.9 ppg and 10 rpg. He is a high volume three point shooter (7.5 attempts per game) who helps to stretch the floor.
Veteran E’Twaun Moore is having a career year, averaging 14.7 ppg. He is shooting 42.9% from three on 3.5 attempts per game. Moore is the 5th guy on the Pelicans who averages double figures. If Mirotic (18p/10r) is unable to play (he has sat out with illness recently), that will put more pressure on the rest of the scorers to put up points in his absence.
Contrary to the Grizzlies, the Pelicans shoot a lot of shots — and I mean a lot. They lead the NBA in shots and points per game (118.1), but they also give up the most points per game (116.7). This means they play a fast paced (3rd in NBA) style and controlling tempo will be crucial for Memphis, who wants to keep the score to around 100 a piece.
Saturday, December 8th vs LA Lakers (14-9)
One benefit of LeBron James playing in the Western Conference includes the potential for Grizzlies fans to witness him in person multiple times per year. King James (27p/7r/6a) is obviously the head of this team of youth and misfits.
Kyle Kuzma (16p/5r) and Brandon Ingram (15p/4r) continue to do their thing and are producing around the same numbers as last season, which has helped the Lakers have a better than expected season.
Of course this team has Lonzo Ball (8p/5r/4a) on it, leading the way. He has an eFG% of 47.5%, which is the lowest among the starters on this team.
Starting center Javale McGee is playing 24.1 minutes per game and contributing 12.1 points and 6.4 rebounds.
Off the bench, Josh Hart is shooting 39% from three and scoring 9 points per contest. KCP adds 8 points in 20 minutes of play and is seeing a severe decrease in the playing time that he has had in the past with rosters that don’t include LeBron James. Lance-will-make-her-dance Stephenson throws in another 7 points in 15 minutes of run per night.
The LeBron Lakers are going to beat you by playing solid defense (7th in the league) and taking high percentage shots (7th in 2P%). Kyle Anderson will likely get the LeBron assignment and we will see how elite of a defender he is. He held Kawhi to well under his average, but the Raptors were able to win because of their host of three point threats. The Lakers do not have this luxury, so it is clear where to focus all of the efforts on defense.
Key Injuries: Rajon Rondo