After a promising start, the Memphis Grizzlies (5-3) are slowly falling back down to earth. They’ve lost back-to-back home games to the Charlotte Hornets and the Orlando Magic.
With Mike Conley missing against the Magic with an Achilles injury, Tyreke Evans stepped up with a season-high 32 points off the bench, while Marc Gasol added 22 points and nine rebounds. However, costly late-game errors from veteran Mario Chalmers condemned the Grizz to defeat.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers (5-2) bounced back from their back-to-back defeats to deliver a 119-98 beatdown on the Dallas Mavericks. No starter played more than 28 minutes as the game was done and dusted by the end of the third period.
Austin Rivers bounced back from his disastrous five-point outing against the Golden State Warriors to drop 19 points, the fourth time he’s had 16 or more points in his last five games.
Three keys to the game
Conley’s availability and effectiveness – It remains to be seen whether Conley can recover in time to return to the lineup for the Grizzlies. But even if he does play, he may not be quite as effective. He’s shooting just 37 percent from the floor this season.
Battle of the All-Star bigs – Both Marc Gasol and Blake Griffin have been playing at an incredibly high level this season. They have played a huge part in their respective teams’ early season success and will play a huge part in their success in this game. Blake is basically the team’s point guard with the offense revolving around him. Gasol could have a similar responsibility if Conley remains sidelined.
Grizzlies bench – Tyreke Evans has been doing an amazing job leading the Grizzlies’ second unit. He’s averaging 19 points over his last five games. Rookie Dillon Brooks has also been a consistent contributor while Brandan Wright has provided steady minutes. The Grizzlies will need those three to continue their strong play to escape LA with a road win.
Matchup to watch
Marc Gasol vs DeAndre Jordan – Gasol is not quite at 100 percent physically. The last thing he needs is to go up against a physical force of nature like DeAndre Jordan, who will be a handful for Gasol to handle on the boards all night long.
Grizzlies projected starting lineup
PG – Mike Conley | SG – Andrew Harrison | SF – James Ennis III | PF – Jarell Martin | C – Marc Gasol
Clippers projected starting lineup
PG – Patrick Beverley | SG – Austin Rivers | SF – Danilo Gallinari | PF – Blake Griffin | C – DeAndre Jordan
If Conley does miss out once again, Evans will be an interesting play in fantasy. Over the last five games, the veteran sixth man has put up 19 points, six rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.4 threes. If he gets enough minutes, he has the potential to reach those numbers once again.
The Grizzlies have been showing their limitations lately, especially with their star duo of Gasol and Conley banged up. They’ve done well to remain competitive, but it could be a matter of time before they fall off even more. The Clippers have the benefit of a couple days’ rest and home-court advantage, so they should be good value as home favorites.
The Clippers control the wounded Grizzlies as they get the 106-97 home win.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Prime Ticket and Fox Sports Tennessee. Tip-off at Staples Center is at 3:30 PM ET.
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