The Grizzlies stumbled into week 9 after suffering an embarrassing loss at the yellow and gold filled FedEx Forum on Saturday night. LeBron James and his vast following made an appearance and took care of the tired and overwhelmed Grizzlies.
This week didn’t start off much better, with the Grizzlies falling to the Nuggets on Monday night. Much like the Grizzlies, I’m off to a sluggish start this week and just now getting your preview for the week posted. I am sorry that I am not doing my part in helping the Grizzlies get back on track. Well, no longer!
Grizzlies @ Denver Nuggets, Monday December 10th
If you’re reading this, then you already know the outcome of the game. It was a disappointing showing for the Grizzlies, who faced a shorthanded Denver Nuggets group. The Memphis transplants who were in Denver to personally witness the Grizzlies in their lone trip to the Mile High City were let down.
Here is a quick synopsis in tweet version:
Grizzlies vs Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday December 12th
Portland started off the season red hot and led the Western Conference standings for a short time. Since then they have hit some road blocks, falling victim to a pair of three game skids, but now have won two in a row and are in 7th place. They face the Rockets in Houston on Tuesday, so the Grizzlies will face them on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Trail Blazers have won 15 games this season against one of the toughest schedules in the league, suggesting that they are a serious contender for a high playoff seed.
There are certain guys in the NBA who circle the Grizzlies on their calendar and consistently come out and have big games against them. Portland shooting guard CJ McCollum (21p/3r) is one of those guys. In his 15 career regular season games against the Grizzlies, McCollum is averaging nearly 20 points per contest, including scoring lines of 42, 37, and 36. Garrett Temple will have his hands full and if he can’t fulfill the defensive assignment, coach Bickerstaff might elect to call up Kyle Anderson to the challenge.
This will be a big game not only for the obvious win or loss outcome, but for the All-Star selection implications as well. Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (27p/6a/5r) is a three time All-Star and looking for another selection, playing some of the best basketball of his career. With Mike Conley recently coming forward and bluntly expressing his desire to have the coveted star next to his name on basketball-reference, this will be a solid opportunity to prove that he belongs.
In the post, center Josef Nurkic (15p/10r) is having his best season offensively, shooting 51.6% from the field. Nurkic and forward Al-Farouq Aminu (9p/8r) play big roles in making this Blazers team the second best rebounding team in the NBA, with the team collecting a shade under 50 per game. For perspective, Memphis is dead last in the league with 39.7 rebounds per game.
Off the bench, Evan Turner (8p/5r/4a) and Zach Collins (7p/4r) provide some consistent pop along with Nik Stauskus (7p).
Grizzlies vs Miami Heat, Friday December 14th
If you take a look at the Miami Heat roster, it might remind you of the last time the Atlanta Hawks were relevant. There is no one blowing you away, but they are just a team of NBA dudes. Memphis catches the Heat at home on the fifth game of their six game road trip.
They have a bunch of guys that average 20 plus minutes and double figure points. However, they have struggled with injuries and off the court issues and have had guys in and out of the lineup all season. Hasaan Whiteside (13p/13r) recently drew a “not with team” status as he appears to be unhappy with his current situation. Second year center Bam Adebayo (8p/7r) has taken full advantage of his recently increased playing time, snagging 36 points and 18 rebounds between two recent games against the Clippers and Sun. Bam actually leads NBA centers in defensive rating among those that have played in 15+ games and average 20+ minutes.
Josh Richardson, a shooting guard out of the University of Tennessee, leads the team in scoring with 19.2 per game. He is shooting only a shade below 40% from three on 6.8 attempts per game.
Grizzlies vs Houston Rockets Saturday December 15th
Houston Rockets. They currently are next to last in the Western Conference. That is a very misleading intro. In the compact Western Conference, they are only a handful of games out of the playoff race.
Not surprisingly, they lead the lead in 3PA, at 42.2 per game, but they are shooting a poor percentage that is only good enough for 24th in the league.
Reigning MVP, James Harden leads the NBA in scoring with a cool 30 points per game. Re-signed big man Clint Capela (17p/11r/2b) is holding things down in the post. Bonus stat: Clint actually leads the team in Win Shares this season.
Chris Paul (16p/7a) has been inconsistent this year for the Rockets, having some big games mixed in with a few no shows, but you can guarantee that he is looking to get hot against Memphis.
Stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. Stats current as of 12/10/18