Memphis Grizzlies game previews between November 28 and December 4, including games against: Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors.
Memphis enters the beginning of December a little banged up with injuries, but playing well. Memphis is still without James Ennis, Chandler Parsons, and Brandan Wright, yet still, have won six of their last eight. With three of four games at home this week, Memphis has the chance to improve on their 11-6 record. Only the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavaliers have a better record in the past 10 games.
Monday, 28 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
Memphis played one of their best games of the year against Charlotte on the road November 21. The Grizzlies won 105-90, paced by five players in double figures including Mike Conley with 31. Charlotte received little attention for a 4-0 start to the season, but have now lost four of their last five. The Hornets have struggled a bit in close games this season, losing two games in overtime to the Pelicans and Knicks. Guard Jeremy Lamb is coming off the best game of his NBA career in a victory over New York on Saturday, scoring 18 points but grabbing an incredible 17 rebounds. Lamb was filling in for the injured Nicolas Batum.
But the success of this team relies so much on Kemba Walker offensively. Defensively, the Hornets will do their thing and be a tough nosed unit. Sometimes they have major lulls on offense, and a lot of responsibility is placed on Walker to bail them out. Walker has been their leading scorer 12 of 16 games this year. Memphis meanwhile has had six different guys lead them in scoring, ranging in age from 19 to 39. It was Frank Kaminsky that led the Hornets in the game last week, as he scored a career high 23 on 9-11 shooting. If Zach Randolph is back in the lineup at this point, he has to be aware of Kaminsky and get out on him on the perimeter. If not, the defensive draw will be for Jarell Martin, who athletically matches up a lot better than Z-Bo.
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
The lone road game of the week is the toughest one of this seven-day stretch. Toronto continues to rely on DeMar DeRozan and his stellar start to the season to pace them to a 10-6 record, good for second in the Eastern Conference. This contest for the Raptors is their second game in a season-high six game home stand. The Grizzlies, albeit in just a few games, have struggled against the Raptors as of late. Last season Toronto took both games, and they split the season series two years ago. Former Raptor star Vince Carter is still looking for his first win at Toronto as a member of the Grizzlies.
These two teams are pretty evenly matched, but the Grizzlies strengths have to win their respective match ups. Tony Allen has to be Tony Allen against the NBA's leading scorer in DeRozan. Conley has to make former Grizzly Kyle Lowry work at both ends. Marc Gasol has to be presence in the paint against Jonas Valanciunas on both ends of the floor. That's why these teams match up well against each other. Their strengths collide at common positions. Memphis has smaller room for error with the lack of wing depth and playing on the road. Assuming no major injuries or anything happen before this game, this could be a very closely contested game.
Thursday, 1 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
Orlando is off to a 6-11 start this season. The Magic are caught in limbo, not knowing whether to develop their young talents, or stick with veterans to try to win games now. The Magic have gone back and forth on their philosophy, and that has hurt them in the early going. Frank Vogel is the first-year Magic coach, and a coaching candidate that Memphis pursued heavily this past off-season. Vogel chose the younger, rebuilding Magic squad, and is joined there by former Grizzlies scapegoat/lightning rod Jeff Green. Aaron Gordon started the first eight games of the season, but has come off the bench the last eight. While his numbers per game dip a bit off the bench, his plus-minus improved from -13, to over +4. Gordon was 0-12 in their last outing against the Bucks, so he's still working his way into a reserve role.
The Magic have lost four straight games after getting within one game of .500, but the issue is that all four losses were to teams below .500. They can't beat mediocre teams right now, and that's a recipe for a long season, especially when you are struggling with finding an identity. This is a game Memphis has to win. In the long scheme of things, one loss to an Eastern Conference team doesn't seem like it could mean much, but with how close the Western Conference playoffs have been the past few seasons, one loss could be the difference between home court advantage or not. Or even making or missing the playoffs. Good teams take care of games they should win. Memphis has been doing a good job of that so far this season, but must continue in this home game against a reeling Orlando team.
Los Angeles Lakers
Saturday, 3 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
The Lakers are definitely one of the biggest surprises so far this NBA season. The Lakers enter this week with a 9-9 record, but have beaten the Warriors, Thunder, and the Hawks twice. Their young talent gets up for the big time opponents, and Memphis could very well fall into that category. This match up has lost some of the allure of the past few seasons, as it is no longer Pau versus his brother Marc, or Kobe versus Tony Allen. There are still plenty of fun players to watch though, especially for the Lakers with the up and coming talents of D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle.
This game will be the fourth in a four game road trip for the Lakers, and the second in a tough back to back. The Lakers will be in Canada on Friday and then play Memphis on Saturday. Memphis may have a tough time keeping up with the youth and athleticism the Lakers have, but they could have the advantage when in comes to fresh legs. Memphis plays Thursday at home before this Saturday home game. Depleted roster or not, Memphis has to be ready to go from the start. The end of a road trip can always be a game where the visiting team mails it in early, and if Memphis can jump on the Lakers right from the tip, that could be the case. First year Head Coach Luke Walton has made the Lakers really fun to watch again and this could be a very interesting game of contrasting styles.
Leaders Through 17 Games
Points: Mike Conley (19.5) Marc Gasol (17.9)
Rebounds: Zach Randolph (8.0) JaMychal Green (6.6)
Assists: Mike Conley (5.8) Marc Gasol (3.9)
Blocks: Marc Gasol (1.7) JaMychal Green (.7)