The Grizzlies enter the second week of the season with a 2-1 record, having completed the second night of a back to back with an overtime victory over the Washington Wizards. The coming week for Memphis features four Western Conference opponents, including two playoff teams from a year ago.
Tuesday, 1 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away
Memphis takes on the Timberwolves for the second time in the first week of the season. In the season opener, Memphis leaned heavily on Marc Gasol and Mike Conley down the stretch, and ended up winning the contest 102-98. The new look Grizzlies hoisted up 24 three pointers, connecting on 11 of them. That certainly was a new experience for Memphis fans, but that wasn't the only surprising aspect. Memphis struggled to defend mightily out of the gate, finding themselves down 20-3 before they could even blink. The Grizzlies gave up 32 points in that opening quarter, which certainly was not the way that David Fizdale wanted to start the season. But Memphis responded nicely, giving up only 39 points in the entire second half.
Memphis has to get off to a better start the second go-round against the Timberwolves. Minnesota is a young team, but that doesn't mean they won't learn from their mistakes. If Memphis finds themselves down 17 in the first few minutes again, it may be harder to muster up a comeback. This game will be the second road game of the season for the Grizzlies, and the first did not go very well; against New York, the Grizzlies faltered out of the gates again, surrendering 32 first quarter points before falling 111-104. The Grizzlies did a nice job of containing Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns in the second half of the opener against the Timberwolves, but they have to do it for a full 48 minutes to beat the Minnesota twice in a week.
New Orleans Pelicans
Wednesday, 2 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
The first divisional game of the season for the Grizzlies will be against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. In the early part of the season, New Orleans has had little production outside of Anthony Davis and Tim Frazier. Davis has been putting up eye-popping numbers, averaging 38 points and 13 rebounds through the first three games, and Frazier has quietly stepped up as the starting point guard, averaging 14 points and 9 assists.
Last season, Memphis was victorious in all four games against the Pelicans. But it could be a different feel this go around for the Grizzlies, as this match up against the Pelicans will be the second night of a back to back and their fourth game in five nights. With Conley and Gasol theoretically on a minutes restriction, Memphis could be throwing out some unique lineups. The Pelicans will also be on the second night of a back to back, as they play at home against Milwaukee the night before.
A key to defeating the Pelicans at this point of the season is the limit the guys around Anthony Davis. He 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.
Los Angeles Clippers
Friday, 4 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
The rivalry against the Clippers resumes, as the Grizzlies try to improve on a 1-2 record against LA from last year. That one win, though, was a memorable one as Zach Randolph put up his first career triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. That feat probably won't be replicated as Randolph is now coming off the bench, but Z-Bo through three games is averaging very impressive numbers of 18 points and 9 rebounds a game. Randolph always loves playing against the Blake Griffin and the Clippers, and this time around will be no different even though he is in a different role.
Chris Paul recently said that the Clippers are aware that "we're not one of the most well-liked teams in the league." Grizzlies fans have held this belief for several years now. The basketball played between the Grizzlies and Clippers might not always be the prettiest, but it's physical, in your face competition that always makes for an entertaining game. It helps that the best players on each team match up with each other very competitively (Conley vs. Paul, Randolph vs. Griffin, Gasol vs. Jordan). The key pieces are still on both teams from the first time these teams faced off in the playoffs in 2012, and they still feel the same way about each other. This one will be fun.
Portland Trail Blazers
Sunday, 6 November 2016 at 03:30 PM ET Home
Much like the Washington Wizards, the key to defeating the Blazers has to be to contain the back-court. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are among the best in the league, and if the voting had to happen right now, Lillard would be near the top for Most Valuable Player.
Last year Memphis split the season series with Portland 2-2, and in each of the Blazers' victories, Damian Lillard was the catalyst, averaging 30 points a game. In the two games Memphis won, Lillard managed just 14 points a game. The Grizzlies may have a hard time slowing him down with Conley limited by minutes and two rookies behind him. If Tony Allen is able to go in this one, he could be in for a good match up with the Portland point guard. Granted, no one has been able to slow Lillard down this season, as he's averaging 35 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
With as good as Lillard has been, people aren't noticing the play of McCollum as much. The Portland shooting guard continues to improve each season, building on an impressive 2015-2016 campaign, and establishing himself as one of the premier 2 guards in the league. So far in the 2016-17 campaign, McCollum is scoring 21 points a night on 56 percent from three point range. While he may be getting looked over in recognition, you best believe he won't be overlooked when it comes to the Grizzlies defensive game plan.
Leaders Through 3 Games
Points: Mike Conley (19.7)
Rebounds: Zach Randolph (9.0)
Assists: Mike Conley (6.7)
Blocks: Marc Gasol (2.0)
Injuries to Keep an Eye On
Tony Allen: Allen has targeted the Pelicans game as his season debut.
Chandler Parsons: Parsons most likely won't play this week. Fizdale said on October 28, "another week or two."
Brandan Wright: Grizzlies announced on October 26 that Wright would be reevaluated in 10 days, so most likely no Wright for these four games too.