When: 6:00 PM AZ Time
Where: Grind City
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
The Phoenix Suns, coming off a Sunday loss in Houston, try to beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night for the third time this season. Both of the earlier Suns wins occurred in Phoenix.
You might remember this one. I know Dragan Bender and Tyson Chandler do.
As the Suns have found out for a long time now, the Grizzlies are struggling to win games without a starting caliber point guard running the show. Mike Conley, the highest paid player in the league last year, is expected to miss the rest of the season with a foot issue.
Chandler Parsons just can’t seem to get healthy, and won’t play against the Suns either. Parsons, signed to his second consecutive “max” contract a year ago, has missed the last 12 games and has only played 60 of 127 possible games for the Grizzlies with the same knee issue he had when he signed. And even when he’s played, he’s been terrible.
Memphis has a handful of other players nicked up as well, including Tyreke Evans who has missed the last two games with flu-like symptoms but might return against the Suns.
Marc Gasol is still Marc Gasol, but Memphis third leading player behind Gasol and Evans this year in terms of minutes played - by a wide margin - is rookie small forward Dillon Brooks, who is posting just under 9 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist per game in 40 starts (27 minutes per game).
That’s not good.
JaMychael Green, James Ennis, Mario Chalmers and Andrew Harrison round out the rest of the rotation.
And David Fizdale was fired for not getting more out of that group.
Like Booker, the Suns have had a tough week too. When Booker and T.J. Warren are both on top of their game, the Suns can be competitive against most teams. But when one or both of those two are struggling, there’s no chance. I don’t just mean points scored. I mean impact on the game, efficiency and focus.
Booker is now the starting point guard, at least for a while, with Troy Daniels taking the shooting guard spot.
Booker had a tough Friday night with only 12 points and 3 assists in a little over two quarters before getting ejected for arguing with Enes Kanter. But he rebounded well on Sunday with 31 points and 10 assists.
A Booker/Daniels back court is really really lacking defensively, so when they had to turn to Greg Monroe and Dragan Bender at the center position on Friday, the whole team went down under. Tyson Chandler is a defensive upgrade, and the Suns showed better balance on Sunday.
Alex Len is still battling a sore ankle he twisted in practice last week, while Chandler is day-to-day with age issues. Expecting good back-to-back games from Chandler is folly at this stage of his career, but that’s what the Suns need to win on Monday night.
So with the Grizzlies starting Marc Gasol against the Suns centers, it will be incredibly imperative for Booker and Warren to dominate the rest of the game.
Booker gets another 30 point game, Warren scores 25 and the Suns have a chance to win in the final minutes.