Memphis is sitting in second place in the Western Conference, but unfortunately for them they’ll be without MVP-candidate Ja Morant for the next week or so.
Brooklyn gets generally back to full strength, give or take, when they get Irving back from the team’s mandated suspension. With Irving, Kevin Durant playing at an MVP-type of level and Ben Simmons finding his groove...who knows?
WHO: Brooklyn Nets (7-9) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (10-6)
WHEN: 7:00 p.m. est
WHERE: YES Network (tv & app), WFAN-FM (radio)
It’s hard to know what to make of this one, given how depleted the Grizzlies will be when they stroll into Brooklyn. You’ll see a lot of role players acting as main characters, especially if Dillon Brooks does indeed miss the game. Tyus Jones was sneakily a top-15 point guard in the league last year and by far the NBA’s best back-up floor general, so he’ll step into the starting role and is not to be taken lightly. Rookies Jake LaRavia and David Roddy are two effective rookie wings that figure to get heavy burn, as well. We may even see everybody’s favorite undrafted free agent, Kenneth Lofton, Jr. (no, not his son).
But for the first time in a few games, much of which had to do with Irving’s absence, the Nets will definitively have more talent on the floor when the ball is tipped on Sunday. Which is why protecting the defensive glass is paramount. In Brandon Clarke and Steven Adams, the Grizzlies have two very different, but very effective offensive rebounders that have the potential to give Memphis the possessions they need to close the talent gap. Clarke is a mess of long limbs with a boundless vertical that necessitates consistent boxing out. Adams, meanwhile, has the potential to disregard any box-out he sees with an elbow and a massive frame doing the dirty work. Who needs to jump?
That is the matchup for Nets fans to watch, though. Yes, it’s the NBA, and yes, teams with nothing to lose are dangerous on the road. Young gunners like LaRavia, Roddy, and sophomore Santi Aldama won’t be afraid to chuck up a combined 20 three-pointers, and may get hot. With that being said, Memphis shouldn’t have the firepower to stick around with an equal opportunity. They’ll need advantages in the possession department, and Clarke and Adams are just the guys to accomplish that.
For more on the Grizzlies, check out Grizzly Bear Blues.