The Jazz (6-6) take on the Grizzlies (7-4) for the third time this season today. The Grizz have been a revelation so far - currently sitting at the fifth seed after taking down the 76ers (in overtime) and Nuggets, and (painfully) the Jazz - twice, and in their own home court. Even in spite of a confusing loss to the Suns, this team is much more scary and legitimate than many predicted - it turns out that Mike Conley and Marc Gasol continue to grind away.
The Jazz are coming off of a good (2-1) home stand that saw the team prevail in Gordon Hayward’s return. Lifting the “Curse of the Bear” - getting those first two home wins on the season - and beating the Celtics allow the Jazz to bring some good momentum into the matchup in the FedEx Center. With the entire weekend to rest, in this Veteran’s Day (observed) matchup, look for the grizzled veterans of the Grizzlies and Jazz to grind one out.
When: 6:00 PM MT · Monday, November 12th, 2018
Where: FedEx Forum · Memphis, TN
TV: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN
Radio: 1280AM/97.5 FM/ESPN Radio
Raul Neto — Hamstring — OUT
Ricky Rubio — Back Spasms — PROBABLE
Omri Casspi — Right Knee Soreness — DOUBTFUL
Dillon Brooks — Left Knee Strain — OUT
JaMychal Green — Broken Jaw — OUT
Chandler Parsons — Right Knee Soreness — OUT
What to watch for
Ricky Rubio is currently probable for tonight’s match, dealing with some back spasms. The Spanish National Team lead guard continues to have a rough start to the season - shooting only 33.9% and 28.0% from three, with negative offensive (-2.1) and defensive (-0.8) box plus minus, and a Win Shares per 48 of 0.018, far below his career average of 0.099. While his assists are up from last year (7.9 vs 5.3), his turnovers and fouls per game are as well (2.7 to 3.3 in both cases). Statistics aside, Ricky has looked hot and cold all season, and unfortunately more often the latter. However, he seemed to be making a lot better decisions and moves the last three quarters against the Celtics, hitting his jumpers and finding Jazz shooters in their spots, so hopefully he’s turning the corner back to the Ricky we knew and loved the last half of the season.
On the other side of the Spanish National Team we have Marc Gasol, the stalwart of the Grizzlies backline. No longer being benched to preserve the Memphis tank, Gasol is averaging a solid 14.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2.0 steals a game at the ripe age of 34, while shooting 46.2% from three on 3.5 attempts. Strangely enough, he’s averaging a career low 38.3% shooting on two pointers, a far cry from his career average of around 50%. Watch the Jazz try to contain Marc’s outside shooting and playmaking by forcing him to drive the ball into the teeth of the Wasatch Front.
Most Likely Jazz-Killer: Mike Conley
When I did the initial preview for the first game of the season, I stated that the Jazz Backcourt would be the main Jazz killer. I haven’t given enough credit to Grizzlies franchise leader Mike Conley. In his two matchups with the Jazz, he’s totaled totaled 51 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and four steals. While he’s shooting only 29.9% from three on the year, look for Conley to keep making the smart, heady play. In the win against the Nuggets, he scored only 4 points, but kept the offense moving with 8 assists while deferring to Marc Gasol. In the win against the 76ers, he scored 32 points, with 6 assists and 4 rebounds, taking over the game. The Jazz will need to contain his impact and make sure he can’t take Ricky and Donovan out of the game defensively.