The Memphis Grizzlies will host a different LA Clippers’ team than the one they defeated in the season’s opening weekend. How different? Read on for our full game preview of the Clippers’ rematch against the Grizzlies:
Where: FedExForum (yes, it really has no spaces), Memphis, TN
When: 5:00 PM PT
How to Watch: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570
Clippers: Reggie Jackson — Eric Bledsoe — Paul George — TBA — Ivica Zubac
Grizzlies: Ja Morant — Desmond Bane — Dillon Brooks — Jaren Jackson Jr. — Steven Adams
Clippers: OUT — Kawhi Leonard (ACL); OUT — Serge Ibaka (G League assignment); OUT — Marcus Morris Sr. (knee); OUT — Justise Winslow (personal); OUT — Keon Johnson (ankle); OUT — Jason Preston (foot); DOUBTFUL — Nic Batum (achilles); QUESTIONABLE — Terance Mann (ankle)
The Big Picture
. . . is rosier than the last time these squads met.
Fresh off an admirable loss in the season opener, the Clippers blew an early lead while folding under the squeeze of a relentless Memphis attack. They would scuffle from that 0-2 record to a 1-4 mark, and premature questions about this team’s ability to cope with Kawhi Leonard’s absence abounded.
Then the Clippers rattled off seven wins. They enter tonight’s contest as winners of eight in nine. Paul George is earning dark-horse-MVP chatter. (It’s early for MVP chatter, but he’s been aces!) Their point differential is third-best in the West and, as of the time of this writing, they ranked third in ESPN’s BPI in the whole danged association. All of which is to say that the Clippers have shaken loose from their brief early stupor.
They’ll need to shake more productivity from the tree tonight, though. Look at that injury list. I almost added my own name just to see if you would notice. Brandon Boston Jr. scored 13 in 20 minutes on Tuesday night but he’s at the point of his career where one night like that each month is encouraging. Good or bad, he’s likely to factor in. The Clippers may have to reach deep into their bag to pull this one out.
. . . is at full strength. How many teams get to play a game at full strength?
Dillon Brooks returned last week to round out the Grizzlies’ brutish starting lineup, as if they needed another big, strong guy sledding to the basket. But the shine is off the pyramid. Despite the continued ascent of their young core (Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., De’Anthony Melton, et al.), the Grizzlies have won just two games in two weeks, beating the Timberwolves (fine) and the Rockets (yawn). Their victory over Houston served only to wash away the sour aftertaste of a loss to New Orleans. Yuck.
And yet, the baby bears have sharp teeth. As we saw last month, their throwback brand of basketball is exhausting, especially to an aged and thinned Clipper roster. Grit and grind has become drive, drive, drive. It’s just another tough night in the West.
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