Grrrrrrrr! - Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
Tonight, the Suns will play the final game in their six-game road trip. Phoenix won just one of the first five games (against an Irving-less Cavaliers squad) and now they are in Memphis to take on the team with the best record in the NBA: the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies are 12-3, first in the West and tied with Miami (who they beat head-to-head) for the best record in the NBA. The Suns, on the other hand, are just 7-11 and 13th in the West, ahead of only Sacramento and New Orleans. The Grizzlies are 8-1 at home, while the Suns are just 2-8 on the road. The Grizzlies have four players averaging over 15 points per game, while the Suns have only one.
On paper, this is a huge mismatch.
The Suns dropped two games they shouldn't have against Detroit and Toronto. That means in order to remain afloat and attempt to stay competitive, they need to make those games up against teams like the Grizzlies. That is a tall task, but the Suns put themselves in this position. Time to man up.
The Grizzlies have one of if not the best frontline in the entire NBA. Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combine to average 51.1 points and 25.7 rebounds per game. Z-Bo had a down year last year after missing a lot of time and coming back from an injury, but this season he's back to his typical double-double machine form. Rudy Gay is leading the Grizz in scoring at 18.9 points per game. And the Suns are going to rely on Markieff Morris, Luis Scola and Michael Beasley to defend these guys. Scary. P.J. Tucker is going to have to make his presence known tonight.
We can't forget about Gasol either. He's the guy that makes that team go. He operates out of both the low and high posts and is incredibly effective form both areas. He can score in the post, hit the 17-footer and pass the ball very well. He also has a lot of weight on Gortat, and we know the Polish Whatever struggles against bigger guys. We're going to need him to get out of this defensive funk to have any shot in this game.
Point Guard Match-Up
We can't forget about their fourth 15-plus point per game scorer either. Mike Conley Jr. has turned himself into a very good point guard, and is off to a great start this season. Conley is averaging 15.3 points per game on nearly 50 percent shooting, and is also dropping 6.7 assists per game. In fact, his numbers are nearly identical to Goran Dragic's (and are actually a bit better across the board). Dragic is coming off of his first single-digit-scoring game of the season, and he is going to need to bounce back and win this match-up.
Both teams could possibly be without key defensive players in this game. Memphis' starting shooting guard and lockdown defender Tony Allen is questionable with a groin injury and could miss this game. The Suns don't exactly have any star wing players that Allen would need to shut down, but you never want to be without a starter.
On the other side, Jermaine O'Neal missed Sunday's loss against the Knicks with a strained right quadriceps, and could sit this one out as well. That would be a big hit against the Suns and their defensive game plan against Randolph and Gasol.
The game tips off at 5 p.m. PST, 6 p.m. AZ time, 7 p.m. CST and 8 p.m. EST (sorry my international friends, but it's too much work to figure out tip time where you guys are). Make sure to join us in the game thread, even if you don't feel like watching the game.
**Update: Bassy Out**
According to Paul Coro's Orange Slices, back-up point guard Sebastian Telfair has left Memphis to deal with a family matter. Bassy will rejoin the team before Thursday's game against Dallas, but that doesn't do the Suns any good tonight.
With Kendall Marshall currently assigned to the Iowa Energy (and tearing it up), rookie Diante Garrett will get the call to back up Dragic. Garrett made the team after participating in Summer League, training camp and the preseason, and now he will get his first non-garbage time minutes in the NBA. Garrett, a 6-foot-5 guard out of Iowa State, is a do-it-all type of guard who can do a little of everything but isn't great at any one area.
Who's ready for Garrett Time?
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