Utah Jazz (22-46, 8-27 road) @ Memphis Grizzlies (39-27, 20-14 home)
Tip Off @ 6:00 p.m. MST
Regular Season Series Game 2 of 3 (Grizzlies 1-0)
The Memphis Grizzlies are currently sitting in the eighth seed in the Western Conference, and hold a game and a half lead over the Phoenix Suns. They look to hang on to that position when they host the Jazz tonight.
The Jazz have lost five in a row and nine of their last ten games overall. The only win in those games came on the road against a Philadelphia 76ers team who has now lost a franchise record 21 straight games. Memphis has won seven games in a row at home, and have won seven of nine games overall in the month of March.
The Jazz want to forget about their last game as much as they can. Utah was embarrassed on Monday night when they faced the Houston Rockets. The Rockets had at one point built their lead to over 40. I’m sure everyone has already seen it, but at the end of the game, John Lucas III stole the ball from Rockets point guard Isiah Caanan, and went down the court with it. Lucas passed the ball to Rudy Gobert and, according to Lucas, took a “cheap shot to the ribs” by Francisco Garcia. Lucas then retaliated and put up his fists ready to throw punches.
Surprisingly, neither player was penalized by the league offices for the altercation. However, Lucas mentioned after the game his frustrations with the way the season has gone and the lack of playing time he has received. The Jazz will most likely be looking at giving the young core the majority of the minutes from here on out, since the Jazz are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Lucas may not like that.
Key Matchup: Jazz bigs vs Memphis bigs
Coach Tyrone Corbin said before the game against the San Antonio Spurs that he would play with the starting lineups depending on the matchup. Tonight, the Jazz might be putting Enes Kanter back into the starting lineup to match up against the bigs of Memphis.
The Grizzlies start Marc Gasol and Zac Randolph at the power forward and center positions. To counter, the Jazz should put Kanter out on the court with Derrick Favors. With Marvin Williams in the starting lineup, Randolph could bully his way to the basket due to the lack of size Marvin has on him.
It has it’s advantages and disadvantages to starting Kanter tonight. Kanter has been pretty good on the offensive end, but has been at best mediocre on the defensive end. With Memphis, if you put Kanter on Randolph, he can step out free throw line extended and hit a jump shot or back his defender down to the basket. If you put him on Gasol, it is probably a better match up for him, but Gasol can still take advantage.
I don’t expect the Jazz to go in to Memphis and steal a victory, but if the Jazz want to keep things somewhat close, they have to do a good job on containing the big guys for the Grizzlies. If they don’t, the Jazz could be looking at a long night again.
Memphis is looking ahead and wanting to make sure they get into the playoffs. The Jazz are headed for the lottery and they know it. The Jazz could possibly come out with a “don’t care” attitude tonight, but I don’t expect that at all.
The Jazz have 14 games left in the regular season, and there aren’t many wins left on that remaining schedule. Tonight isn’t any different as they could be in trouble in Memphis. Expect the Jazz to chalk up another loss tonight, but at the very least, hopefully we see improvements out of the young guys.
Grizzlies 101, Jazz 90