Jan 30, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) handles the ball against Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) in the second half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Memphis Grizzlies won 115-96. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
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The Memphis Grizzlies (32-22) and the Phoenix Suns (16-36) met last week, and it wasn’t even close. What must the Grizz do to recreate that game?
If you had to compare Mike Conley to a superhero after his 38-point outburst versus the Suns, it would most likely be the Human Torch. Conley and company combined for 16 three-pointers, and the outcome seemed to be decided relatively early.
Now the Suns are in Memphis for a rematch against the team that embarrassed them just over a week ago. Can the Grizzlies put together another lethal shooting performance?
It’s no question that much of the Grizzlies’ offense relies heavily on the performance of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Usually, when the team is struggling, it’s because their two stars can’t muster together a good shooting performance.
Luckily for Memphis, both of these guys have been absolutely on fire lately. If Coach Fizz wants to handle the Suns quite easily, he’ll look to create oppurtunites for his two best playmakers to score early and often.
Jan 30, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) dives to save the ball in front of Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) in the second half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Memphis Grizzlies won 115-96. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
2. Control the boards
The Suns have some serious height down low with Tyson Chandler and Alex Len. The Grizzlies’ big men have their work cut out for them when they go for boards.
Creating second-chance oppurtunitues on the offensive end is a huge advantage for any team, but if Memphis can do that at a consistent rate, then it’ll kill momentum for Phoenix. The return of Brandan Wright definitely helps this cause as he provides that extra spark in the paint.
If the Suns can control the boards then it could be a closer game than anticipated.
Major pieces off the bench have returned, and things are starting to look good. Douglas, Carter, Ennis, ZBO and Wright is a good lineup on paper, but the chemistry is also important. This unit seems to gel on the court, and that is a massive plus for a team that has had inconsistent bench production the past few seasons.
This is without mentioning the microwave Troy Daniels, who has shown the ability to score a lot, and Andrew Harrison, who can provide valuable minutes off the bench.
Feb 4, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) walks off the court after the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Grizzlies won 107-99. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
This Grizzlies team is playing solid basketball right now, and it’s coming at a perfect time. The All-Star break is right around the corner. It’s difficult, but Memphis can certainly win the remaining games left on the schedule. This would be a huge confidence booster for this team and help set the tone for the second-half of the season.
To win this game, they can’t take this under-matched opponent lightly. The Grizzlies are clearly a better team than the Suns, but the players must approach each game with a certain tenacity. Unfortunately, this team cannot win consistently on talent alone. However, when they play our brand of basketball, they can beat anyone in the league.
I fully expect the Grizzlies to come out strong and pull out the dub.