When: 6:00 PM AZ Time
Where: FedEx Forum
Watch: Bally Sports AZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
The first matchup of three between the Phoenix Suns and the Memphis Grizzlies this year will likely be a good one. What you can count on is the hustle and resilience between both teams.
Maybe it is too early to declare the Grizzlies a playoff team, but they are going to cause some trouble in the west. Arriving early to the party is not a bad thing when playing out West.
The Suns and Grizzlies have common ground playing with all out effort and snagging the wins early in the season while still trying to build chemistry. This Grizzly team would like the respect the Suns have right now in the league and they want it soon.
- Chris Paul
- Devin Booker
- Mikal Bridges
- Jae Crowder
- JaVale McGee
Landry Shamet (day-to-day), Deandre Ayton (doubtful), Dario Saric (out)
- Ja Morant
- De’Anthony Melton
- Jaren Jackson Jr.
- Desmond Bane
- Steven Adams
Killian Tillie (out), Dillon Brooks (out)
Even with the injury to Deandre Ayton, missing four out of the last five games, the Suns are starting to put things together on the floor.
There are a few things that stick out.
The good? Frank Kaminsky. DA has been M.I.A. and in this sort of situation, panic could have ran the team. Frank and JaVale McGee have picked up the slack in the front court. How long will this last? Until DA has returned.
The real question is- how do we split these minutes between Frank, JaVale, and DA when he returns to the starting lineup? The quick answer would be to go back to the way it was but it would be a shame to lose what Frank brings each night.
Head coach Monty Williams will have a problem, but with the physicality that Frank and JaVale bring every night, there will always be an issue with fouls. Then, when that comes into play, it will be easy for Monty to pick and choose the minutes between the two.
Chris Paul and the work he has done on the court this year in leading the league with 10.9 assists-per-game has helped both the starting lineup and the bench. Watching Paul in the second quarters this year, distributing effortlessly with the bench unit, makes me think that team chemistry is on the rise.
Paul's field goal attempts per game is down a couple, but it is only a matter of time (and we saw it a little late in the 4th quarter against the Portland Trailblazers on Wednesday night) before he is able to take over games and finish opponents off from mid-range and the three.
The first name to bring up is Ja Morant. No longer in the shadows of Zion Williamson, who continues to nurse injuries, Ja now has the floor.
The face of a young Grizzlies team is up to a lot of good and is currently a rising superstar. Averaging 26.5 pts, 7.3 asts, 5.7 rebs per game, Ja might be climbing the mountain to a league MVP trophy a little sooner than expected.
It is a reach with the roster still so young and a manageable 50-win season in reach with opponents worried about rest, covid, and injuries.
Desmond Bane is the other name that I would like to bring up.
The second year players numbers are on the up-rise. He is now playing in a starting role along side Ja and is deadly from three. Bane has size and the hustle to bust down a defense.
The Suns in my eyes wanted this guy but were unable to move back in the 2020 NBA draft to snag him. To have him on Memphis helps the Grizzlies and adds to an already excited Grizzlies team.
This Grizzlies team is very focused on making major leaps this season and might be the next ‘Cinderella Story’ of the 2021-22 season.
Anytime the Suns play a team like the Grizzlies, you can look at the team on paper and see Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams, and even Desmond Bane, you would think it will be a tough outing. And it might.
Once the game begins to slows down and Mikal Bridges is switches onto Ja for the rest of the game, there will not be a whole lot of options for the Grizzlies after that.
A Suns win is in order, but I do expect a lower scoring affair.