At long last, they meet. With only 13 games left on the schedule, the Pacers are finally crossing paths with the Memphis Grizzlies for the first time this season tonight, marking 336 days since the two teams last played each other in a regular season game.
Since then, Memphis has skyrocketed from a plucky showing in the play-in tournament and first-round of the playoffs against the Utah Jazz to second-place in the Western Conference, with Ja Morant’s ultra-aggressive rim attacks at the helm of a young, high-volume transition offense, leading the NBA in fast-break points per 100 possessions. Since the trade deadline, Tyrese Haliburton has hit the gas on how often the Pacers play in the open floor, but they’ve surrendered 142.2 points per 100 transition plays — a mark which ranks 30th in the league, according to Cleaning the Glass. Meanwhile, with Memphis also stacking up second chance points in bulk, a large focus will also have to be on defensive rebounding, perhaps curbing some of Indiana’s ability to keep pace in a track meet, at least via leak-outs.
Overall, for a defense that has struggled to limit paint-points over the last month, the Pacers are likely to catch a break with Morant doubtful due to back soreness, but the Grizzlies are still 12-2 in games in which he hasn’t played, relying on depth that has recently gotten deeper with Dillon Brooks returning and starting for the Grizzlies over the weekend.
One player can’t replace Morant, but Tyus Jones and Desmond Bane will likely try to fill the void as primary ball-handlers which is why Draft Kings has the Grizzlies as 6.5-point favorites and expected to score over 120 points. The line moved down from 7.5 with the news that Malcolm Brogdon, Chris Duarte and Lance Stephenson moved from questionable to available, with Goga Bitadze (foot soreness) a game-time decision.
DraftKings Odds: Grizzlies -7.5, O/U 235 (latest DraftKings odds here)
When: 7:00 PM EST
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Radio: 93.5 FM/107.5 FM
Projected Starting Lineups:
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Malcolm Brogdon, Oshae Brissett, Isaiah Jackson
Grizzlies: Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
IND: Goga Bitadze - questionable (right foot soreness), T.J. McConnell - out (right wrist ligament surgery), Ricky Rubio - out (torn left ACL), Myles Turner - out (left foot stress reaction), T.J. Warren – out (left navicular fracture)
MEM: Ja Morant - doubtful (back soreness)
Please leave your thoughts and observations on the game in the comments.
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.