It’s no secret that the Grizzlies are struggling right now. They have dropped 12 of their last 15 games and are looking for any source of positivity and a chance to right the ship. During this losing stint, they have endured chaos in the locker room, a trade, and the wrath of many displeased fans.
Monday, January 7th @ New Orleans Pelicans
Memphis travels down south to NOLA on Monday after getting shellacked by the Spurs on the road on Saturday.
The Pelicans have struggled to get any positive momentum over the past 6 weeks or so. They have not won back to back games since November 19th. Since then, they have dropped in the standings, losing 15 of their 23 games played.
Offense is certainly not their problem. The Pelicans have scored 100 or more points in every game but two this season, and are first in the NBA in points per game (116.7) and second in offensive rating (114.3). They play as a team and are second in the league in assists, as well as third in total rebounds – with guys like Anthony Davis (28p/13r/4a), Julius Randle (20p/9r), and Nikola Mirotic (17p/9r) very active on the boards. They shoot very efficiently because most of their points are earned around the rim, with Davis and Randle owning the paint on offense.
They play at the 6th fastest pace in the league, which allows their opponents to also take a large amount of shots, thus allowing the most points per game in the NBA (115.1). That is almost 13 more points than Memphis earns per night, so something will have to give for the Grizzlies to earn a W.
Guard Jrue Holiday (21p/4r/8a) leads the team in assists and shoots 47.5% from the field. Nikola Mirotic* is New Orlean’s biggest threat from three, taking 7.2 shots from deep per game and hitting 2.5 of them. His ability to stretch the floor creates a lane for AD to work his magic from all parts of the hardwood. Be on the lookout for how Davis handles the double and triple teams. If he is able to find the open man on the perimeter, the Pels will be able to shoot as much as they want from three.
Also, look for SF Darius Miller (7p) to soak up a lot of minutes for coach Alvin Gentry. Since coming back from injury, PG Elfrid Payton (11p/5a) has also brought some life to this offense, averaging 15p/5a while in the starting lineup.
*Forwards E’Twaun Moore (leg – 13p/2r) and Nikola Mirotic (ankle – 17p/9r) are both listed as day-to-day on the injury report. If neither of these guys can play, that leaves a big gap to fill on one of the league’s best offenses.
Wednesday, January 9th vs San Antonio Spurs
Less than a week after falling 108-88 in San Antonio, the Grizzlies will get a shot at redemption against the never aging Spurs.
They have a multitude of guys that can rise to the occasion and stick it to you as they see fit, with DeMar DeRozan (22p/6r/6a) leading the way. He has had no issue sliding right into Coach Pop’s system and wreaking havoc on the Western Conference, after spending the beginning of his career in Toronto.
Big Fella LaMarcus Aldridge (19p/8r) is staying right on track with his career averages and is shooting 51% from the field. Former Grizzly Rudy Gay (13p/6r) is shooting an efficient 41.5% from three, albeit on under a trio of attempts per game.
Marco Belinelli (9p/2r) is still in the league and takes the second most three point shots on the team, hitting them at a clip of nearly 36%. As a whole, the Spurs are 28th in the league in 3PA, but wouldn’t you know it, they are first in 3P%. Continuing to stick to their methods, the Spurs take the most 2 point shots and free throws in the NBA.
From the backcourt, Bryn Forbes (12p/2r/2a) has settled in nicely as a regular starter for the Spurs. His fellow guard Derrick White (7p/2a) has scored 19+ points in each of his last three games.
Possibly the most pesky Spur is backup guard Patty Mills (9p/2a) who always gives Memphis ball handlers fits and puts himself in situations to give the Grizzlies one gut punch after another.
Saturday, January 12th @ Miami Heat
The last time these two teams played, it was in the confines of the FedEx Forum with the cloud of a soon-to-be failed trade looming over the last quarter.
Coach Erik Spoelstra goes a solid 9-10 players deep every game. The only Heat player averaging over 30 minutes of run per matchup is their leading scorer, wingman Josh Richardson (18p/3r/3a). He does a lot of his damage behind the three point line, shooting 37.6% from deep on 6.8 attempts per game.
This team has a plethora of guys who can score 20 on you on any given night. Guys like Justise Winslow (11p/5r), James Johnson (8p/3r) are athletic forwards who are capable of scoring in different ways and defending multiple positions.
You can never sleep on the Dwayne Wade (14p/3r/3a) farewell tour either. He might score 30 on you just for fun and he knows he can do it.
Center Hasaan Whiteside (12p/12r/2.5b), the defensive and rebounding menace is an athletic, long body down low who will cause issues for our guards should they get into the paint. Second year guy Bam Adebayo (7p/6r) is a very capable force down low as well.
Overall, the Heat are 7th in defense, which helps to make up for some of their lack of offense, which is 22nd in the league. They are tough to score on and average 6 blocks per game as a team. They are 2nd in offensive rebounds, which could be a key area to scrutinize when you watch this game. This is a Heat team who is sitting around .500 and they want in the playoffs and are willing to fight tooth and nail for that opportunity. If you aren’t willing to work hard, this Heat team will burn you.
Point Guard Goran Dragic (15p/4r) had knee surgery and has been out since late December.
All stats are as of 1/6/19