The 2016-17 NBA season kicks off for the Memphis Grizzlies with a pair of home games and the first back to back set of the season.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
The season begins at home for the Grizzlies the second year in a row. Memphis struggled right out of the gate last year, dropping the season opener to the Cavs 76-106. With a largely revamped roster and an entirely revamped coaching staff, the Grizzlies hope to get off to a better start this season. The nightmare injury situation from last year still hangs over the Grizzlies, as several players will not be available for the opener.
A new face to the Grizzlies, Chandler Parsons, was not cleared to play as he continues to rehab from knee surgery in March. Parsons only recently was cleared to return to practice, so Memphis fans will have to be patient to see the debut of the small forward. Brandan Wright will also be inactive, as he is nursing an ankle injury. Without Wright, and Coach Fizdale announcing a minutes restriction for Marc Gasol, expect to see a lot of Jarell Martin, and maybe even some Deyonta Davis. Tony Allen's status is also a question mark for the season opener. Allen is working his way back from a knee injury suffered at the beginning of the preseason.
Memphis split the season series 2-2 last season against the Timberwolves.
New York Knicks
Saturday, 29 October 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
The Grizzlies head to Madison Square Garden to get their first look at the updated New York Knicks. The Knicks will trot out three new starters to join Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. An offseason trade for Derrick Rose, and free agent signings of Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah really changed the look of the Knicks. New York now has veteran players next to Carmelo and a new coach in Jeff Hornacek. Hornacek comes from Phoenix and has been trying to up the tempo for New York. With Fizdale on the Memphis sideline trying to do the same, the game could have a quicker pace to it than previous matchups.
Last season, Memphis won the season series 2-0 against the Knicks. Gasol poured in 37 for the Grizzlies in their first matchup, a 103-95 victory. This season, the key for the Knicks is getting bench production. The Grizzlies will go to former Knick Zach Randolph to anchor the bench unit. The Knicks are very much a top-heavy team, with Brandon Jennings really the only proven player off the bench. With fairly even starting lineups, this game could come down to which bench can produce more.
Sunday, 30 October 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home
Memphis returns home the next night to face the Wizards. The focus for beating the Wizards is slowing down and containing the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Last season, Memphis played Washington twice in a nine-day stretch, splitting those games. Beal did not play in either of those games, but the catalyst was John Wall. In the victory, the star point guard had 14 points and 14 assists. He had just six points and nine assists in the loss. Memphis will have to slow Wall down to get a victory in the second half of the back to back.
Beal looked solid in the five preseason games he played in, averaging 15 points on 52% three-point shooting. Beal played in just 55 games last season but managed to put up a career high 17.4 points a game. A healthy Beal is crucial for the Wizards to return to the playoffs this season. But the Wizards aren't completely free from injury woes, as first year Wizard Ian Mahinmi partially tore his meniscus and will miss 4-6 weeks. Replacing him as the backup center will be a combination of Jason Smith and Andrew Nicholson. Zach Randolph should have a favorable matchup off the bench for the Grizzlies.