The Jazz (1-1) have an extremely rough schedule to start off: after this game against the Grizzlies (1-1), they go on a road trip against the Rockets, Pelicans, Mavericks, and Timberwolves, all before the end of Halloween. The Jazz need to take their easier wins where they can, but the Grit-and-Grind Grizzlies are never an easy challenge. Even with grindfathers Tony Allen and Zach Randolph no longer on the team, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley always lead a great fight. Remember when Chandler Parsons versus Goblin Halloween was a legitimate question? Parsons is finally healthy and playing, but his impact is minimal at best. Outside of those three, no one on the Grizzlies roster has a reputation of being scary. Even Omri Casspi, who once dueled Steph Curry from 3 point land, is relegated to the end of the bench (knock on wood).
The Grizzlies are coming off of a 131 - 117 drubbing of the Hawks. Even though it’s the Hawks, letting Garrett Temple go off for 30 points and 5 three pointers isn’t something I’d normally expect to see, so look for the Jazz to shut him down early. They lost 111 - 83 against the Pacers, though, so I don’t think there’s a ton to read into this early into the season. The Jazz, of course, came off of that devastating loss against the Warriors in which several franchise records were set. Here’s hoping that the Jazz’s hot offense (116.0, 5th in the league) continues, while their defense (113.7, 22nd in the league) finally gets into shape in the face of the currently extremely high pace (106, 6th in the league).
When: 9:00 PM ET • Monday, October 22nd, 2018
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
TV: FSSE-MEM, ATTSN-RM
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Thabo Sefolosha — Suspension — Out
Raul Neto — Right Hamstring — Out
JaMychal Green — Broken Jaw — Out
Kyle Anderson — Illness — Questionable
Marc Gasol — Back Soreness — Probable
What to watch for
How will the Jazz take advantage of the Grizz’s limited front court?
The Grizzlies have modernized with space and pace power forwards JaMychal Green and rookie Jaren Jackson Jr making up the primary PF rotation. However, with Green’s broken jaw, phenom JJJ will likely start, further thinning out the Grizz’s frontcourt backups to Ivan Rabb and small-ball options like Kyle Anderson, Parsons, and Omri Casspi. The Jazz and Grizz have typically gone big with their starting lineups, but players like Jae Crowder and Joe Ingles also see time at the 4 for the Jazz. We’ll see how the Jazz respond and react to lineups that the Grizzlies don’t deploy often.
Shelvin Mack is still in the league, and somehow averaging 27.5 minutes per game so far. Good for him.
Most Likely Jazz-Killer: The Jazz’s Backcourt
Don’t take this the wrong way: I love Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio. It’s more a commentary that this is the Jazz’s game to lose, and the most likely way that will happen is if Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio have horrible games that the rest of the team aren’t able to make up. On the season, Ricky and Donovan are averaging 7p/2.5r/7a and 21.5p/2.5r/2.5a on 22.2%/42.9%/100% and 36.4%/31.8%/75.0% 2P%/3P%/FT%, respectively. While the numbers are alright in the assists and points department for Rubio and Donovan respectively, those percentages are pretty ghastly especially on the volume they’re taking them at so far. Thankfully, Dante Exum, Alec Burks, and co are taking the opposing benches to town, but we’ll need the Jazz’s backcourt to bounce back from a few statistically bad games to achieve our greatest potential.