Sixers Take on Grizzlies in Search of Third Consecutive Win
“We won a game yesterday. If we win one today, that’s two in a row. We win one tomorrow, that’s called a winning streak. It has happened before.”
— Lou Brown, Major League
On Monday night the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Miami Heat 101-94, winning consecutive games for the first time since March of 2015.
Tonight the 76ers will take on the Memphis Grizzlies (9-5) in search of their first three-game winning streak since January 2014.
After pulling out victories over some of the lower-tier teams in the NBA, the Sixers journey will get much more difficult starting tonight. The Grizzlies have won 5 straight games, a streak which includes impressive road wins over the Utah Jazz (7-8), Los Angeles Clippers (13-2), and Charlotte Hornets (8-5).
What: Sixers (4-10) vs Grizzlies (9-5)
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
When: Wednesday, November 23rd at 7 PM Eastern
Watch: Comcast SportsNet
Projected Starting Lineups:
Sixers: Sergio Rodriguez, Hollis Thompson, Robert Covington, Ersan Ilyasova, Joel Embiid
Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Troy Williams (?), JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
(Note: Official starting lineups are released approximately one hour before the game).
Ben Simmons (out, fractured right foot), Nerlens Noel (out, knee), Gerald Henderson (doubtful, illness), Richaun Holmes (doubtful, illness)
Brandan Wright (out, left ankle), Chandler Parsons (out, left knee), James Ennis (out, right calf), Tony Allen (probable, groin).
Jahlil Okafor and Jerryd Bayless are no longer under a minutes restriction. Joel Embiid continues to be under a 24-minute playing time restriction.
About The Opponent:
The Grizzlies are a team that, no matter what, never seem to really go away.
With long-time cornerstone Zach Randolph aging and playing a reduced role off the bench, the Grizzlies have stormed out of the gate to a 9-5 start, with victories in each of their last 5 games, including an impressive win on the road against the 13-2 Los Angeles Clippers.
The Grizzlies are led by Mike Conley, fresh off of a $153 million contract signed this summer. There’s quite a bit of sticker shock on contracts signed this past summer as we all get used to the new financial reality of the NBA after the new national television deal kicked in, but Conley continues to be one of the most well-rounded point guards in the game.
Conley is averaging 19.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.5 steals so far on the season, while shooting 49.3 percent from three-point range. The Grizzlies have outscored opponents by 6.9 points per 100 possessions while Conley has been on the court this season, while getting destroyed by 13.2 points per 100 possessions when he’s been on the bench.
Despite Randolph coming off the bench he’s still been a big contributor for the Grizzlies, especially in their latest winning streak, averaging 15.6 points per game (2nd best on the team) and 8.0 rebounds per game (also second best) over the Grizzlies last 5 games.
Vince Carter is averaging 11 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game over the five game winning streak. Carter will turn 40 in a little over two months from now.
That being said the Grizzlies competitiveness revolves around their defense, and this year is no exception. The Grizzlies have the 4th ranked defense in the league so far this year, anchored by center Marc Gasol, who is once again having a stellar year with averages of 17.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.5 blocked shots per game. They are the best defensive rebounding team in the league, force opponents into turnovers on 14.4 percent of their offensive possessions (4th best in the league), and get to the free-throw line. They have some offensive weaknesses (20th in 3pt, 23rd in turnovers), but their strengths tend to be difficult hurdles for the Sixers to overcome.
What To Look For:
Joel Embiid showed what he can do against a dominant defensive force in Hassan Whiteside, scoring 17 points on 6-9 shooting in the 16 minutes both Whiteside and Embiid were in the game. Tonight he’ll go up against yet another defensive force in Marc Gasol, albeit one who gets his defense done in a very different manner. Gasol is a very smart defender and will look to take away Embiid’s strengths and key in on his tendencies, and how Embiid reacts will be key.
Beyond that, the Sixers will have to keep their turnovers in check if they want to have a chance to win tonight. The Sixers are last in the league at taking care of the ball, turning the ball over on 15.7 percent of their offensive possessions, which is actually worse than last year’s rate. Embiid, and the team, have gotten better over the last three games, but the Grizzlies are a smart, seasoned defensive squad, and this will be a tough test for Brett Brown‘s team.
Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.