GAME: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Sacramento Kings
Time: 7:00 pm CST
PLACE: FedExForum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (8-6), Sacramento (6-10)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Dante Cunningham, Marc Gasol
Sacramento – Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, J.J. Hickson, DeMarcus Cousins
Both teams enter this contest on winning streaks. Memphis is currently at 5 consecutive wins, and Sacramento has won two hard-fought contests over quality opponents (Indiana and San Antonio). This will be the Kings’ second visit to Beale Street, as these two teams squared off on January 3, with the Grizzlies excising their frustration from their blowout loss to the Bulls by beating Sacramento 113-96.
Memphis has been getting it done with defense and big leads early in the game. Last night, they jumped out on the Pistons quickly, leading by 10 at the end of the first quarter and stretching the lead to 20+ during the game. But, as has been their M.O. lately, they allowed yet another team (another bad team at that) to sneak back into the game and make it close. It’s hard to complain too much when they keep winning these games, but eventually they are going to lose one and then all the smiles will be gone.
Sacramento’s wins have been….well, somewhat inexplicable. They shot 30% from the floor against the Pacers and still won. They shot less than 24% from deep and less than 58% from the line against the Spurs and still won. If you simply look at the stats, there is nothing to point to as a reason for the Kings beating these two good teams. Reading the recaps from these games, one thing stands out though: the Kings are executing in the 4th quarter.
Does that mean that the Kings could be the one to make the Grizzlies pay for their lackadaisical play late in games with the lead? Could be….could very well be.
For Memphis to win, they need to continue playing defense like their lives depend on it. Specifically, they cannot allow the Kings backcourt players to get hot. If Evans and Thornton get going early, it can spell trouble, as they will be able to get others involved.
For Sacramento to win, they need to get creative on offense and try to create fastbreak plays with their defense. Using Cousins as the linchpin to their offense would be wise, too — similar to how the Grizzlies use Marc Gasol in the high post.
Prediction: Grizzlies win in a game that is very tight.