When: 3:00 p.m. MST
Watch: TNT, FSAZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
Spread: Suns -3
The Memphis Grizzlies have now won 4 straight games and Ja Morant has made his return from a brutal looking ankle injury earlier in the season as the Grizzlies look to push back into the playoff picture after a slow start.
The elephant in the room is loud and clear at this point though, as the uncertainty on whether or not this game is actually played looks to be in jeopardy after the 76ers game was postponed the day after a game versus Memphis.
Along with that, Memphis center Jonas Valanciunas has entered the league’s health and safety protocol.
Memphis C Jonas Valanciunas has entered the league's health and safety protocol, team says.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 17, 2021
Memphis also released their injury report for the game Sunday evening. It will be interesting to track if there are any late scratches due to contact tracing. The league has canceled games right before tipoff a few times already so just because they are planning on playing the game at the moment does not ensure it will actually happen.
.@memgrizz status report, Jan. 18 vs @Suns:— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) January 17, 2021
Jaren Jackson Jr. (LT knee meniscus surgery recovery)
Jontay Porter (RT knee soreness)
Jonas Valančiūnas (Health and Safety Protocols)
Justise Winslow (LT hip displacement)
Suns: Chris Paul — Devin Booker — Mikal Bridges — Jae Crowder — Deandre Ayton
Grizzlies: Ja Morant — Dillon Brooks — Kyle Anderson — Brandon Clarke — Xavier Tillman
Matchup of the game:
Deandre Ayton versus Xavier Tillman.
Ayton should be in a great position to have a bounce-back game with Valanciunas out since Memphis will likely be relying on rookie Xavier Tillman and Gorgui Dieng likely taking up most of the center minutes. This is the perfect type of opponent for Ayton to establish himself early on and dominate throughout against a depleted Memphis front court. Ayton will be the key to the game with Saric, Jones and Smith out. We’ll likely see some Frank Kaminsky minutes and possibly even Crowder playing the 5 because of how depleted their front court is.
Suns Injury Report
Dario Saric OUT (health and safety protocols)
Damian Jones OUT (health and safety protocols)
Jalen Smith OUT (health and safety protocols)
Cameron Payne QUESTIONABLE (ankle)
In Morant’s return to action in a win over Philadelphia he posted 17 points and 6 assists in 31 minutes. Memphis has won 4 straight games and with Morant back in the fold they feel a real sense of momentum towards making a playoff push as they get healthy. This will be a good test for a Phoenix team that has had a week long break, as they play on the national spotlight on TNT for the MLK Day triple header.
From what I am hearing all signs point to the Suns/Grizzlies game tonight being played.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) January 18, 2021
The situation is fluid and there will likely be another round of tests before the game, so while they aren’t entirely out of the woods yet it does seem like all intentions are for this game to be played as things stand.
Suns- 113 — Grizzlies 109
This is a tough game to make a prediction for given the week long hiatus for Phoenix with rust factored in. Along with that— Dario Saric, Jalen Smith, and Damian Jones are all out and Cameron Payne being listed as questionable so they will not only need to shake off rust, but battle depth issues as well.