Once again, Memphis closed out a week poorly, falling to the Heat and Rockets on Friday and Saturday. This week they go on a potentially brutal four game West coach road trip. If Memphis can split the four games, that will be considered a victory.
Mike Conley will miss at least Monday’s game with a sore hamstring. This will give rookie Jevon Carter a chance to soak up some minutes after an encouraging debut against the Rockets on Saturday. He will get to go heads up against several present and future point guards and give us a solid read on his ability to adapt to the NBA.
Monday, December 17th @ Golden State Warriors
After a less than typical start, the Warriors are now back near the top of the Western Conference, just a shade behind the Denver Nuggets.
The scouting report is out on this team, and has been for years. Kevin Durant (29p/7r/6a), Steph Curry (29p/5r/5a), and Klay Thompson (22p/4r) carry the vast majority of the team’s scoring load — nearly 70% of the team’s 116.1 points per game.
Golden State touts the NBA’s best offensive rating, mostly in part to the team shooting 38.9% from three. They own the league’s best field goal percentage at 49.1% per game.
Even though he is only averaging 6ppg, Draymond Green makes an impact on the game in a variety of ways. On Friday against the Kings, he hauled in 14 rebounds and dished out 10 assists to go along with his lone made field goal.
The tough part about Golden State is that their big three will all get between 20-30 points per night. What you have to do is hold their high scorer to 30, and prevent anyone of their role players from scoring in double figures. With the way that Memphis scores, that doesn’t leave much room for error.
Limiting possessions (read: rebounding) will play a large role in this game for the Grizzlies. Jonas Jerebko (7p/5r), and Kevon Looney (6p/5r) will be guys that Memphis will have to keep off the boards as well as Durant and Draymond.
Wednesday, December 19th @ Portland Trail Blazers
7 days after the Grizzlies bested the Blazers in Memphis, they will meet in Portland. Though Damian Lillard leads the team in scoring with 26 points per game, CJ McCollum proved again that he is a Grizzly killer.
Though the Grizzlies held the Blazers to 83 points in their first meeting, CJ was responsible for 40 of them all by himself.
In order to earn another W, Memphis will have to play another complete game by winning on the boards, and limiting the impact of Lillard and other potential scorers like Al-Farouq Aminu (9p/8r) and backup point guard Evan Turner (8p/5r).
Big man Josef Nurkic (14p/10r) was held in check offensively by Marc Gasol, but still got his on the boards. Portland ranks 4th in the NBA in total rebounds and that will play a key role in the outcome of this game.
Friday, December 21st @ Sacramento Kings
If you are looking for a fun, young, and surprising team to watch on the West coast, Sacramento is your squad. They play the second fastest in the league and have sharp shooters like Buddy Hield (19p/5r) who is hitting 42.9% of his three point attempts.
Speedy point guard De’Aaron Fox (17p/7a) has developed very nicely in his short time in the league.
In the frontcourt, Willie Cauley-Stein (13p/8r) is having the best year of his career. Also Nemanja Bjelica — \NEH-mahn-yah BYELL-eet-sah\ — (11p/5r) has increased his rebounding presence and also ability to stretch the floor. He is shooting 48.5% from three on 3.4 attempts per game.
Of course, they also have the number two overall pick from this past year’s draft in Marvin Bagley (12p/6r), who has missed the past two games with a knee injury.
The Kings have a full compliment of guys that can shoot the three ball and it shows because they have one of the best team three point percentages in the NBA. This includes wing Bogdan Bogdanovic (14p/3r) , who has made his presence felt on the team since coming back from injury in early November.
Sunday, December 23rd @ Los Angeles Lakers
When LA visited Memphis a few weeks ago, they completely dismantled the unprepared Grizzlies. The most exciting outcomes from that game were:
- LeBron gave away a pair of shoes
- Memphis fans yelled at other Memphis fans on social media for selling their season tickets for that game to Lakers fans
In the last matchup, Memphis allowed 3 different Lakers to hit 4 three pointers. These guys were Kentavious Caldwell Pope (9p/2r), Josh Hart (9p/3r), and Kyle Kuzma (18p/5r). Kuzma will pose a problem for Memphis because of his ability to play both inside and out. He will have Jaren guarding him, and bringing JJJ away from the basket will open up the lane for LeBron and company to get to the dish easier.
LeBron James (27p/7r/7a) has scored 20 or more points in 26 out of 30 games this season, so he is automatic. Lonzo Ball (8p/5r/5a) runs the point for this squad and helps to keep the pace up for this Lakers team who relies a lot on youth and speed.
Memphis will have to defend the perimeter and rebound much better in order to have a chance to beat this team that is currently 4th in the West.