The Celtics close out their 3 game home stand with a visit from the Memphis Grizzlies. This is the second and final game between these two teams this season. The Celtics won the first game 109-106 in Memphis on November 7. The Celtics won the series 2-0 last season. The Celtics has won 8 straight games against the Grizzlies in Boston. Memphis has lost their last 6 road games.
The Celtics remain 1st in the East. They are 1 game ahead of 2nd place Milwaukee, who have won 10 straight games, and 3.5 games ahead of 3rd place Philadelphia. They are 2 games ahead of Denver for the best record in the league. The Celtics are 22-7 at home and 6-4 in their last 10 games. They are 16-5 against Western Conference opponents and they have won their last 3 games.
The Grizzlies are 2nd in the West. They are 4 games behind 1st place Denver and they are 3 games ahead of 3rd place Sacramento and 4 games ahead of 4th place Dallas. The Grizzlies are much better at home than they are on the road, going 23-5 at home and just 11-16 on the road. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games. They are very streaky, winning 11 in a row, then losing 5 straight and 8 of 9 before winning their last 2 games. They are 18-5 against the Eastern Conference and have won their last 2 games.
The Celtics are playing in the final game of a 3 game home stand. They have won both games of the home stand so far. They will play at the Bucks on Tuesday and will finish out the slate before the All Star break at home against the Pistons on Wednesday. The Grizzlies are on the road after completing a 3 game home stand. They will then play at home against Utah to close out their games before the All Star break.
Marcus Smart is still out after missing the past 9 games with an ankle sprain. Jaylen Brown will miss this game after being hit in the face with an elbow from Jayson Tatum. Danilo Gallinari remains out with the torn ACL. For the second straight game, Malcolm Brogdon is listed as probable with Achilles soreness. He was able to play through it on Friday but struggled with his shot. For the Grizzlies, Steven Adams is out with a PCL sprain.
Probable Celtics Starters
2 Way Players
Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Marcus Smart (ankle) out
Jaylen Brown (face) out
Malcolm Brogdon (Achilles) probable
Head Coach (Interim)
Probable Grizzlies Starters
2 Way Players
Kenneth Lofton, Jr
Vince Williams, Jr
Steven Adams (knee) out
Derrick White 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 27.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. He is shooting 47% from the field and 33.2% from beyond the arc. Against the Celtics this season, he finished with 30 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals. He shot 41.7% from the field and 41.7% 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.
Sam Hauser vs Desmond Bane
Bane is averaging 21.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. He is shooting 46.5% from the field and 43.2% from beyond the arc. Against the Celtics in November, Bane finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists and shot 46.7% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc. Bane is playing very well and the Celtics need to defend him well, especially on the perimeter.
Al Horford vs Jaren Jackson, Jr
Jackson is averaging 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game. He is shooting 50.2% from the field and 34.6% from beyond the arc. He missed the first meeting between these two teams. His biggest contribution is on the defensive end where he is a good rim protector and also a good rebounder. The Celtics need to be aware of his presence when they go to the basket and they have to box out to prevent him from grabbing rebounds.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. The Celtics are 4th with a defensive rating of 110.5. The Grizzlies are 2nd with a defensive rating of 109.6. The Grizzlies are 8th in scoring with 116.2 points per game. They are 3rd with 17.7 fast break points per game. The Celtics must play lock down defense for 48 minutes against the Grizzlies if they want to get a win in this game.
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 7th in the league, grabbing 45.0 rebounds per game but the Grizzlies are 2nd, with 48.2 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies are also 5th with 16.1 second chance points per game. Much of rebounding is effort and hustle and the Celtics need to put out more effort and work harder than the Grizzlies in order to beat them to rebounds.
Let’s Be Physical - The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team. They have to go after every loose ball, every rebound and play harder than the Grizzlies on every possession. They have to be more aggressive on defense, and on getting to the basket. They have to be the team that plays harder and that wants the game more. If the Celtics are the more aggressive team, they will likely get the benefit of the calls and they will control the pace of the game.
Stay Focused - The Celtics need to stay focused on making the right plays. They have to make the extra pass and find the best shots and not settle for quick contested shots. They need to focus on hitting their shots and if they aren’t falling, they need to get to the basket where they can get a better shot or draw a foul. They also have to focus on making good passes and being careful when dribbling and handling the ball so they don’t make careless turnovers. They can’t afford to lose focus for even a short time against a tough team like the Grizzlies.
Next Man Up - The Celtics will be without Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown and that will present challenges on both ends of the court. Also, Malcolm Brogdon may be limited by the sore Achilles once again. The Celtics need their other players, both starters and reserves, to pick up the slack and fill in the void left by the injured players. Will Derrick White have another big game? Can Brogdon be effective? Will Tatum have a big game or struggle? Every Celtic has to step up if they hope to get a win in this game.
Home Game - The Celtics are home for their 3rd straight game. They need to get motivation from the crowd and play their best to protect home court. The Grizzlies have struggled on the road this season with just 11 wins to 16 losses. The Grizzlies have to overcome the distractions of playing on the road including travel fatigue, staying in hotels, playing in front of hostile fans and in an unfamiliar arena and the Celtics need to take advantage of that.
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. 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.