Tyreke Evans has been held out as Memphis (18-34) continue to hope they can get a first-round pick in exchange for the veteran guard who averages 19.5 points and shoots 39.2 percent from 3-point range. There are also reports the team may move Ben McLemore, who has averaged just 6.2 points since arriving in the offseason from Sacramento.
The state of flux has hindered Memphis on the court, where they are trying avoid a winless four-game road swing after a 101-86 defeat at Toronto on Sunday. Marc Gasol scored 20 points and Andrew Harrison added 16, but that was about it offensively for the Grizzlies, who shot 35.8 percent and were outscored 62-36 in the paint.
Atlanta, meanwhile, have put out the word that everyone but rookie center John Collins, who is averaging 10.4 points and 6.9 rebounds, can be made available as general manager Travis Schlenk plans to build a new nucleus around the 19th overall pick.
The two biggest names, Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore, were part of a Hawks team that won 60 games in 2014/15 but are not generating sizable interest. Despite averaging 19.3 points, Schroder is not a good outside shooter, and teams are wary of Bazemore’s contract, which has two years left at $37 million and a player option for the second.
The Hawks edged New York 99-96 on the road Sunday for just their second win in seven games as Bazemore scored 19 points and Mike Muscala added 15 off the bench. Atlanta hit 15 of 33 from 3-point range, shooting better from beyond the arc (45.5 percent) than overall (40.2).
Three keys to the game
The Hawk most likely to move is... - Forward-Dewayne Dedmon, who is fully healthy after missing six weeks with a tibia injury and is averaging 10.0 points and 7.7 rebounds. A playoff team seeking depth could risk their 2018 first-round pick on Dedmon, but beyond that, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova are the next most likely candidates to move via trade or contract buyout.
Gasol staying optimistic - While it has been a lost season in the Mid-South with the firing of David Fizdale and the Grizzlies en route to their first 50-loss season since going 24-58 in 2008/09, Gasol wants to be the part of the rebuild as he has taken a leadership role in the locker room.
“He’s doing a great job of leading, and leading not only by actions but the conversations that he’s having, the way that he helps the young guys,” interim coach J. B. Bickerstaff told the Memphis Commercial Appeal . “It’s the way that he talks to them and teaches them. In his situation, it is very easy to be frustrated. He obviously has high expectations and is used to winning a lot of games, so he’s dealing with that frustration well and he’s helping the young guys through this.”
Schroder's perimeter struggles - Every player goes through a shooting slump, it is a part of life in the NBA. But there also comes a time when a player has to adjust to play to his strength. Schroder is quicker than most opposing defenders but is too often settling for jump shots.
His 28.0 percent marksmanship from 3-point range is his worst since connecting at 23.8 percent as a rookie coming off the bench, and he is two for 21 from beyond the arc in his last six games. As an 87.4 percent free throw shooter, Schroder should average more than 3.8 attempts at the foul line.
Matchup to watch
C Marc Gasol vs C Miles Plumlee - Gasol has been a workhorse the last eight games, averaging 34-plus minutes while totaling 17.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in that span. He has a triple-double and two double-doubles in that span and could be in line for another triple-double matched up against Plumlee.
The Hawks center did well against Knicks center Enes Kanter, a more traditional big man, on Sunday, but Gasol will be more than happy to drag Plumlee out to the perimeter to try his 3-point shooting. Don't be surprised if Dedmon and Plumlee switch off at times, with Plumlee mixing it up with JaMychal Green in the low block and Dedmon chasing Gasol out of the paint.
Memphis Grizzlies projected starting lineup
PG - Andrew Harrison | SG - Wayne Selden Jr. | C - Marc Gasol | SF - Dillon Brooks | PF - JaMychal Green
Atlanta Hawks projected starting lineup
PG - Dennis Schroder | SG - Kent Bazemore | C - Miles Plumlee | SF - Taurean Prince | PF - Dewayne Dedmon
Gasol had 13 points, six rebounds and five assists in Memphis' 96-94 home win over Atlanta on December 15, but also committed a season-high eight turnovers. He has registered five double-doubles in 15 matchups with the Hawks, totaling 13.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest.
Rookie Dillon Brooks has been a consistent contributor at small forward of late, averaging 13.5 points while shooting 44.2 percent from 3-point range in his last 11 contests for Memphis.
Schroder had 18 points and 11 assists in the loss to Memphis earlier this season but was five of 18 from the floor. While he has averaged 16.6 points and 5.9 assists in his last 11 games, Schroder is shooting 37.0 percent in that stretch and has failed to shoot better than 50.0 percent in any contest. He has averaged 9.4 points and 4.4 assists in seven career games versus the Grizzlies, shooting a horrid 30.6 percent.
Bazemore is 12 for 23 from beyond the arc over his last four games, averaging 19.5 points while shooting 49.0 percent. He was eight of 15 from the field and finished with 19 points against the Grizzlies in December, lifting his career scoring mark against them to 7.7 points per game in 13 contests.
The line has shifted 2.5 points in Memphis' favor as the Hawks are now just two-point favorites. While the Grizzlies are 3-7 in their last ten againt the spread when facing Southeast Division opponents, they are 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 games overall and have covered five times in their last six matchups with Eastern Conference teams.
Memphis are also 8-2-1 against the spread in their last 11 games following a straight up loss and 6-1 in their last seven when facing an opponent with a losing record.
The Hawks have covered six straight times against Western Conference teams and in their last four versus Southwest Division suqads. Atlanta, though, are 1-5-1 against the spread in their last seven coming off a straight up victory.
The Hawks are also trying to buck a pair of trends in which the road team and the underdog have covered in the last five meetings between the teams.
The over/under has jumped 2.5 points to 206, with the under trending as it has hit in the last four meetings overall and the last four in Atlanta.
There is a very real chance someone will not be on a roster by tip-off, and in fact, players from both teams could move Tuesday as the trade deadline draws near. With that in mind, this is a game where professionalism could make a difference, and with that, it's hard to pick against Gasol and the Grizzlies.
Sunday's game was admittedly a clunker, but the Raptors are one of the best teams in the East and the Grizzlies had lost the first two games on this road trip by a combined six points.
In short, they are due for a win, and a Hawks team that may be jittery knowing full well they are in a teardown could be the perfect opponent at the perfect time as the Grizzlies should post a 104-96 victory.
The game will be televised locally on Fox Sports Southeast - Memphis and Fox Sports Southeast - Atlanta. Tip-off time is 7:30 pm EST.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?