Since Mike Conley got hurt against the Hornets, Memphis is 2-1, winners of two straight. But it's not just Conley that is out. The Grizzlies only have the "Nasty Nine." Memphis suits up just nine guys (though Toney Douglas is rumored to be signed soon). Winnable games might be few and far between, but there are definitely some for the taking this week.
New Orleans Pelicans
Monday, 5 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away
Memphis faced off against the Pelicans when Anthony Davis was fresh off of 50 point and 45 point games. In the weekly preview for that game, I wrote, "He [Anthony Davis] is going to put up big numbers regardless. In the Pelicans season opener, Davis scored 50 while the rest of the team contributed 52. If Memphis slows down the guys not named Davis, you have to like their chances for their third home victory."
Instead, Memphis took the opposite route. Davis went 3-13 and only scored 10 points in the Grizzlies overtime win. David Fizdale has said that JaMychal Green will make his name as one of the better defensive players in the league. And Green proved it early in the season. For Memphis, this is a winnable game. But for the Pelicans, as they try to climb out of the depths of the Western Conference to get into the playoff picture, this is a game they will be gunning to get.
Tuesday, 6 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
The second half of the back to back will be another team Memphis went to overtime with earlier this season, a game which Memphis won in double overtime 104-99. Memphis has always struggled it seems against the 76ers, winning in games that are way too close.
In the preview I wrote just two weeks ago, "Memphis has struggled, sometimes playing down to the level of the 76ers over the past couple years, nearly losing several times. But this is a game Memphis should win going away. And it's a game that Memphis cannot afford to drop. Even at this point of the season, Memphis needs to wins games that they are heavily favored in."
Clearly, that did not happen. But even with nine or 10 players, Memphis has to pick up this win. In an 82 game season, it can sometimes feel that these games don't matter, but this game could be the difference between home court advantage or not. Memphis has to pick up these wins, especially with that comes at the end of the week. The Grizzlies are 4-0 in the second half of a back to back so far.
Portland Trail Blazers
Thursday, 8 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
The Blazers sit at 8th place in the Western Conference standings right now, and could very well be in a tight race for seeding with the Grizzlies at the end of the season. Portland will be in Milwaukee on Wednesday night and complete their back to back in Memphis. Portland is 0-4 in the second half of a back to back so far.
In the first meeting between these teams, CJ McCollum went off for a career-high 37 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter of a close game. While it's nearly impossible to contain both Damian Lillard and McCollum, Memphis has to limit the scoring outbursts that they saw in the first match up. This game was Chandler Parsons Grizzlies debut, which didn't go well. But Parsons won't be playing in this one either. The Grizzlies announced that he'll be re-evaluated at the end of this week.
Golden State Warriors
Saturday, 10 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
Memphis gets their first shot at the back to back reigning Western Conference champions. This will be the final game of a three-game homestand for the Grizzlies. Even with a full compliment of players, Golden State is incredibly tough to beat. But without Conley, Brandan Wright and Parsons for sure, and James Ennis, Vince Carter, and Zach Randolph potentially, Memphis might be in for a long one.
I hate to bring up bad history, but Memphis lost to Golden State by 50 points last season. Since being up 2-1 in the playoffs two years ago, the Grizzlies have struggled in this matchup. A big part of that definitely has been injuries, and that trend continues for this matchup. This will be the middle game of five-game road trip for Golden State, but the road has been no problem so far this year. Golden State is 9-1 away from The Oracle.
While the Warriors do give up over 106 points a game, that probably isn't possible for the Grizzlies to go after. Golden State themselves score nearly 120 a game. Memphis can't score with them, and they won't be able to limit them completely offensively. So for the Grizzlies, an upset comes by making it really ugly, by playing the game "in the mud." Memphis has to play with extreme effort on the offensive glass and on the defensive end.