The Celtics continue their road trip with a game in Memphis against the Grizzlies. This is the first of two games between these two teams this season. They will meet in Boston on February 4. The Celtics won the series 2-0 last season and have won the last 4 games between these two teams. The Celtics are 33-19 overall all time against the Grizzlies and 17-10 in Memphis.
This is the second of back to back games for the Grizzlies They played at San Antonio on Saturday night and then had to travel back home for this game. They lost their only other back to back game this season. This is the first of back to back games for the Celtics. They won both games in their first back to back set. Both of those were at home while both of these games are on the road.
Memphis just finished a 3 game road trip on Saturday. They play this one game at home before heading out on the road to Houston for a game on Wednesday. The Celtics are playing in the 3rd game of a 4 game road trip. They won the first two games in Philadelphia and Toronto. They have one more game on the trip in Charlotte on Monday before returning home.
The Celtics have won their last 5 games. They are 0-1 against Western Conference teams, having lost their only game against the West to the Timberwolves. They are 5-2 on the road. The Grizzlies are coming off a win on the road against the Spurs. They are 0-2 against Eastern Conference teams. They are 0-5 at home. The Celtics have played their last 6 games, and 8 of their 12 games so far, against Atlantic Division teams.
Marcus Smart spent 9 years with the Celtics and became the heart and soul of the team. He was included in the trade that brought Kristaps Porzingis to Boston. It was thought that he was going to a contender in the West, but there have been injuries and setbacks right from the start. Now, Marcus himself is out for 3-5 weeks. It is sad that he will not be playing in this game. Hopefully he will be healthy and the Grizzlies will be on track by the time they play in Boston in February.
Jaylen Brown is questionable for this game. After slipping on the court on Friday against the Raptors, Brown is dealing with a right adductor strain. With the Grizzlies being injury riddled, they may be cautious and keep Brown on the sidelines for this one, especially with the Celtics playing back to back games. If Brown can’t play, Sam Hauser will likely start once again. We may also see Al Horford sit out one of the two back to back games.
The Grizzlies are very short handed. Steven Adams is out for the season with a knee injury. Brandon Clarke is out with a torn Achilles. Ja Morant is out due to a suspension. Marcus Smart is out for 3-5 weeks with an ankle sprain. Luke Kennard (knee), Jake LaRavia (eye), and Xavier Tillman, Sr (knee) are all questionable and will be a game time decision.
Probable Celtics Starters
2 Way Players
Jaylen Brown (adductor) questionable
Probable Grizzlies Starters
Kenneth Lofton, Jr
2 Way Players
GG Jackson II
Vince Williams, Jr
Steven Adams (knee) out
Brandon Clarke (Achilles) out
Luke Kennard (knee) questionable
Jake LaRavia (eye) questionable
Ja Morant (suspension) out
Xavier Tillman, Sr (knee) questionable
Marcus Smart (ankle) out
Jaylen Brown vs Desmond Bane
Bane is averaging 25.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He is shooting 45.6% from the field and 35.2% from beyond the arc. With Jaylen Brown questionable for this game, we may see Sam Hauser start at small forward if Brown can’t play.
Jayson Tatum vs Jaren Jackson, Jr.
Jaren Jackson, Jr is averaging 19.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He is shooting 44.3% from the field and 32.1% from beyond the arc. He is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and will likely make things difficult for Jayson Tatum.
Kristaps Porzingis vs Bismack Biyombo
Biyombo is averaging 7.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.2 blocks. He is shooting 54.8% from the field and has not taken a 3 pointer. The Celtics need to keep him out of the paint and off the boards.
Keys to the Game
Defense – Defense is always a key to winning. The Celtics are 3rd with a defensive rating of 106.5. The Grizzlies are 19th with a defensive rating of 113.7. The Grizzlies are 26th in scoring with 108.5 points per game. The Celtics are 1st in 3 point attempts with 43.1 and 12th in 3 point percentage at 36.7%. The Grizzlies are 4th with 41.8 three point attempts per game but just 26th in 3 point percentage at 33.7%. The Celtics must play lock down defense for 48 minutes against the Grizzlies.
Rebound – The Celtics can’t score if they don’t have the ball and to get the ball, they have to grab rebounds. The Celtics are 1st in the league, grabbing 47.6 rebounds per game while the Grizzlies are 23rd, with 42.0 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies are 8th with 15.2 second chance points per game. Much of rebounding is effort and hustle and the Celtics need to put out more effort than the Grizzlies in order to beat them to rebounds.
Move the Ball Carefully – The Celtics need to continue to move the ball to find the open man and the best shot. It is harder to guard a team that moves the ball than it is to guard a team that relies on iso’s and over-dribbling. But, the Celtics have to make careful passes as the Grizzlies average 20.6 points off turnovers per game (3rd). The Celtics must be careful passing and handling the ball so as not to turn it over and give the Grizzlies extra points.
Don’t Underestimate – The Grizzlies have 4 players out and 3 more questionable. They have won just 2 of their 12 games so far. It would be easy for the Celtics to come in expecting an easy win and not giving their best effort. The Celtics have to start strong and play hard throughout the game. They can’t expect to win, even against the team with the worst record in the West, if they don’t play hard and give it their all.
On the Road and Fatigue – The Celtics are on the road for the third straight game away from TD Garden. They need to get past the distractions of travel and being away from their homes and families and they have to keep from being rattled by the hostile crowd. They have to concentrate on playing the right way and ignore all the distractions. The short handed Grizzlies are playing on the second night of back to back games and so fatigue could become a factor for them.
Officiating – Officiating is always an x-factor. Some officials call the game tight and call every little bit of contact. Others let them play and allow both teams to be physical. Some refs call it one sided for one team while others call it even. Some refs give the home team the benefit of the calls while others favor the road team or favor neither. The Celtics have to concentrate on playing their game and not allow bad calls and no calls to take away from their focus on playing.
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