Memphis have been outstanding since the start of the season, posting two wins against the Rockets and a win against the Golden State Warriors to shake up the West. They lead the Western Conference with a record of 5-1, and can improve on that with a win at home on Monday night. Their last game was a comfortable 103-89 victory against the Rockets, as they held Houston to just 37% shooting from the field. Their defense has been elite, with the Grizzlies ranked third in points allowed.
The Hornets play in the second game of a back-to-back following a 120-113 win against an Orlando Magic side that led the Eastern Conference going into the game. Kemba Walker was a man amongst boys, posting 34 points and ten assists. Jeremy Lamb and Dwight Howard contributed 20 and 22 points respectively, with Howard adding 11 rebounds to his stat line.
Keys to the game
Rebounding – Whilst Marc Gasol has been rebounding well at just over ten boards a game, he’s going to have to make sure that he limits Howard’s ability to dominate the glass. Howard is currently one of the league leaders in rebounding at a staggering 16.4 boards a game. If he has a big night in this game Memphis may struggle.
Defense – Memphis has been elite defensively all year, and with another strong performance on that end of the floor, Charlotte cannot compete. If they can slow down the Rockets and Warriors, then surely they can put the same pressure on the Hornets.
Walker’s form – If the Hornets stand a chance in this game then Walker has to come out as the aggressor and take over the game as he did against the Orlando Magic, both with his scoring and playmaking ability.
Matchup to watch
Kemba Walker vs Mike Conley – There are a few matchups here that could be interesting, including the big man battle of Gasol and Howard. But with Mike Conley and Walker you have two wily guards going head to head who are arguably two of the most underrated players in the league.
Charlotte Hornets projected lineup
PG – Kemba Walker | SG – Jeremy Lamb | SF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist | PF – Marvin Williams | C – Dwight Howard |
Memphis Grizzlies projected lineup
PG – Mike Conley | SG – Andrew Harrison | SF – James Ennis III | PF – Jarell Martin | C – Marc Gasol |
Gasol had a pedestrian game in his last outing with only six points, but has still averaged 23.4 points over his last five. He’ll step it up again in this contest.
Memphis are a six point favorite. With another smothering performance on the defensive end, the type which held an offense like Houston to 89 points, then they’ll cover the spread.
The Hornets were impressive in their last game, but the Grizzlies will be just a little too much for them on Monday night. They’ll take take a comfortable victory here.
The game will be shown on local Fox Sports channels, NBA TV and League Pass. Tip-off is at 8pm. ET.
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