Coming off an impressive home win on Wednesday night to the Raptors, the Celtics get back into action tonight against a free-falling Memphis Grizzlies team. The Grizzlies are now 19-25 and have only won one game in their last ten. The last time these two teams played was down in Memphis, and the Grizzlies were 18-17 on the edge of the playoffs.
The problem for these Grizzlies is really just a lack of depth from the fourth man down to the tenth man on the roster. In the beginning of the season, their bench unit was overachieving enough to contribute to wins with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol playing at a high level. Now, Gasol is playing way too many minutes a game at his age while struggling off an ankle injury and the bench has regressed a bit as well. With that combination, Memphis sits as the team most people thought they were going to be heading into this season.
Back in their first meeting, the Celtics won in Memphis 112-103. The Grizzlies were controlling the pace most of the game, but then the Celtics outscored the Grizzlies 33-16 in the fourth quarter to take home the victory. Kyrie shined once again in that fourth quarter while leading the team in scoring with 26 points. Marcus Morris also contributed with 22 of his own. Mike Conley and Dillon Brooks, who is now out for the season with a toe injury, lead the Grizzlies in scoring on their end.
The biggest key with Boston tonight is going to be keeping their heads down and winning this in convincing fashion. This past week, the narrative with the Celtics has been as far from basketball as possible. The team had another huge win last game, and all people were talking about was the comments after the game that Kyrie made. There are endless pieces on the topic, so there doesn’t need to be a discussion here as well. However, the solution to all these “problems” is winning. Doing your job and winning on the court is going to make people forget about all this nonsense two weeks from now.
As for basketball, the Celtics strength in this one will be to dominate the time on the court with the second units. The Grizzlies are not a deep team as mentioned, so it will be important to dominate those minutes with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol on the bench. Gordon Hayward is finally getting back into the groove shooting, so his bench contribution will be key just like we saw against the Raptors. Also, Aron Baynes should feast tonight as Memphis is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league.
For the first time in what seems like the start of the year, the Celtics are injury free and do not have one name on their injury report! That is a nice luxury to have this far into the season. It will be extra important tonight as the Celtics go on the road after the game taking on the Atlanta Hawks. Minute distribution will be especially important in this one.
As for Memphis, they have two key players out for this one. Kyle Anderson is about a week or two away from coming back from his ankle injury, and Dillon Brooks is out for the year with a toe injury. You could add Chandler Parsons on the list as well, but he came to an agreement with the team and will not be playing games for the Grizzlies anymore.
With everyone healthy, the starting lineup will be the same as the last game. It will be a strong lineup against a Grizzlies team playing their worst basketball of the year. The Celtics should not have trouble in this game in front of the home crowd on a Friday night. Get on them and stay on them should be the game plan for the Celtics tonight.
PG – Kyrie Irving – Mike Conley
SG – Marcus Smart – Garrett Temple
SF – Jayson Tatum – Justin Holiday
PF – Marcus Morris – Jaren Jackson Jr.
C – Al Horford – Marc Gasol
Boston – NONE!
Memphis – Kyle Anderson (Out, Ankle); Dillon Brooks (Out, Toe); Chandler Parsons (Out, Left team)
How To Watch
Time – 7:00 (Changed from 7:30)
TV – NBC Sports Boston