When: 6:00 PM AZ Time
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
Although the Suns have made the move to giving many more minutes to their younger players, the Grizzlies haven't changed a thing. They are presently 6th in the Western Conference with a record of 34-25 and have already beaten the Suns by 19 points twice this season. That's 38 total points that the Suns have been outscored by the Grizzlies in just two games. It's going to be interesting to see how this younger Suns rotation will perform against them.
The Grizzlies (35-25)
Offensively the Grizzlies still rely on the usual suspects to put points on the board, Marc Gasol (20.5 ppg), Mike Conley (19.1 ppg) and Zach Randolph (14.1 ppg). Although Randolph is now coming off the bench, he's still a big factor and is leading the Griz in rebounding (8.2 rpg). Memphis has been making 35.2% of their threes overall this season but in the two previous games against the Suns they've hit them at whopping 57.7%.
And Mike Conley seems to have made it his mission in life to destroy the Suns in the two previous games. He has averaged 30.5 points against the Suns this season and has hit 11 of 15 from 3-point range. That’s 73.3%! If he continues hitting threes at that rate against the Suns then it could be a long and unhappy night in Memphis.
The weak link in their starting five is Chandler Parsons. I'm not sure if he's ever going to return to the player he was a couple of years ago before the injuries started to pile up. Although he's only averaging 6.2 points, 1.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game he still starts and plays 20-25 minutes per night. This is not what the Grizzlies bargained for when they agreed to pay him over $20 million per season.
Memphis plays slow and is 27th in points per game (100.8) in the NBA but they make up for the lack of point production by being 3rd in the NBA in stifling their opponent's points per game production (99.6). In their previous two games against the Suns the Grizzlies have far surpassed their season scoring average in each game scoring 115 in game one and 110 in game two while holding the Suns to 96 and 91 points respectively.
Brandan Wright missed the Grizzlies’ Sunday game with the Denver Nuggets for “personal reasons”. It is unclear whether he will be back for tonight’s game and he is listed as day-to-day.
G - Mike Conley
G - Tony Allen
F - Chandler Parsons
F - JaMychal Green
C - Marc Gasol
The Suns (18-41)
The new and younger Suns rotation will have it's hands full tonight. One thing that they have going for them is that Memphis might not be well prepared for the new look that the Suns will throw at them. Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe will need to score lots of points and the T.J. Warren that showed up for the Bucks game needs to show up again tonight for the Suns to have a shot at a win. And another Big Sauce double-double would be very welcome too. I could go on about what the Suns need from every single player but it’s probably best to just sum it up by saying that everyone needs to bring their A game to Memphis if they want to have a chance at getting a win.
But even if the Suns do score a lot of points they are still going to have to play some defense while keeping down the number of fouls and turnovers. In the past two games personal fouls actually decreased slightly from their season average of 24.8 per game to 22.5 but turnovers jumped up from 15.7 to 20.0 per game. Ouch.
It all adds up to a very tall order for a very young team.
G - Eric Bledsoe
G - Devin Booker
F - T.J. Warren
F - Marquese Chriss
C - Alex Len
This game is going to be a real challenge for the Suns. I don't expect to see a win but the Suns have kept the last two games tight until the end and at least gave themselves a chance to win. Perhaps they will find a way to do it again tonight and surprise us all.
But I'm predicting that the Grizzlies win by 10+ points.
Statistics courtesy of ESPN and NBA.com.