The Celtics close out their 2 game road trip with a game in Memphis against the Grizzlies. The Celtics began their road trip in New York on Saturday with a win over the Knicks. They will return home to face the Detroit Pistons at the Garden on Wednesday. The Grizzlies are playing in the 3rd and final game of a 3 game home stand.
The Grizzlies are playing in the second game of a back to back set and in the 3rd game in 4 nights. They beat the Wizards at home on Sunday night. This is their 2nd back to back set of the season. They are 0-1 on the second night of back to back games so far. Both halves of their first back to back set were on the road while they get to play at home in this one.
This is the first of 2 games between these two teams this season. They will meet for a second game in Boston on February 15. This is the Celtics first game against a Western Conference opponent. The Grizzlies are 4-0 against Eastern Conference opponents. The Celtics are 3-2 on the road while the Grizzlies are 4-0 at home. The Celtics have won their last 2 games and the Grizzlies have won their last 3 games.
The Celtics will be without Luke Kornet (personal), Danilo Gallinari (knee) and Robert Williams III (knee) Williams is traveling with the team and is progressing well toward a return. Al Horford should be back after missing Saturday’s game with back tightness. The Celtics have called up Mfiondu Kabengele from the Maine Celtics to give them more depth at center.
For the Grizzlies, Jaren Jackson, Jr is out due to foot surgery and has begun working 3 on 3. Zaire Williams is out with patellar tendinitis. Danny Green, who was traded from Philly in the off season is rehabbing after tearing his ACL in the second round of the playoffs. Steven Adams is questionable after turning his ankle in Sunday’s game. Jake LaRavia is also questionable with right hip soreness. I am guessing that Brandon Clarke will start at center if Adams can’t play.
Probable Celtics Starters
2 Way Players
Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Robert Williams III (knee) out
Luke Kornet (personal) out
Head Coach (Interim)
Probable Grizzlies Starters
Xavier Tillman, Sr
2 Way Players
Kenneth Lofton, Jr
Vince Williams, Jr
Jaren Jackson, Jr (foot) out
Zaire Williams (knee) out
Danny Green (knee) out
Steven Adams (ankle) questionable
Jake LaRavia (hip) questionable
Marcus Smart vs Ja Morant
Morant is very, very good and very athletic and can get to the basket at will as well as hit from outside. He is averaging 29.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game. He is shooting 51% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. The Celtics will need to especially find a way to slow Morant down if they hope to get a win in this game.
Derrick White vs Desmond Bane
Bane is averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. He is shooting 44.8% from the field and 46.5% from beyond the arc. Bane is playing very well and the Celtics need to defend him well, especially on the perimeter.
Al Horford vs Steven Adams
Adams will be a problem on the boards and on defense at the basket. He is averaging 6.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 blocks. He is shooting 54.7% from the field and has not attempted a 3 this season. Adams is coming off a 19 rebound game against Charlotte, including 11 offensive rebounds. He is tied with Rudy Gobert for the most offensive rebounds per game. The Celtics struggle on the boards and so he could have a very big rebounding game in this one if the Celtics can’t keep him out of the paint.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. The Celtics are not the same defensive minded team as they were last season. So far, they are building their identity as a strong offensive team and have let their defense slip. They are 22nd with a defensive rating of 113.7. The Grizzlies are 25th with a defensive rating of 114.8. The Grizzlies are 2nd in scoring with 118.7 per game. They are 7th with 16.6 fast break points per game. The Celtics must play lock down defense for 48 minutes against the Grizzlies if they have any hope of winning.
Rebound - The Celtics can’t score if they don’t have the ball and to get the ball, they have to grab rebounds. The Celtics are 26th in the league, grabbing 40.8 rebounds per game but the Grizzlies are 3rd, with 46.9 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies are also 2nd with 13.6 offensive rebounds per game. Much of rebounding is effort and hustle and the Celtics need to put out more effort and hustle than the Grizzlies in order to beat them to rebounds.
Play Hard 48 Minutes - The Celtics can’t afford to start off slowly and dig a hole. They need to come out playing hard on both ends of the court right from the opening tip and play hard for all 48 minutes up until the final buzzer. The Grizzlies are very good at coming back from being down and so no lead is safe against them so if the Celtics get a lead, they simply can’t let up and have to continue to play hard. The Celtics have to be the team that plays harder for all 48 minutes of the game.
Move the Ball Carefully - The Celtics need to continue to move the ball to find the open man and the best shot. It is harder to guard a team that moves the ball than it is to guard a team that relies on iso’s and over-dribbling. But, the Celtics have to make careful passes as the Grizzlies average 18.1 points off turnovers per game and so the Celtics must be careful passing and handling the ball.
On the Road - The Celtics are on the road for the second straight game away from TD Garden. They need to get past the distractions of travel and being away from their homes and families and they have to keep from being rattled by the hostile crowd. They have to concentrate on playing the right way and ignore all the distractions.
Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. Some officials call the game tight and call every little bit of contact. Others let them play and allow both teams to be physical. Some refs call it one sided for one team while others call it even. Some refs give the home team the benefit of the calls while others favor the road team or favor neither. The Celtics have to concentrate on playing their game and not allow bad calls and no calls to take away from their focus on playing.