Wednesday, Nov. 8 vs Memphis Grizzlies
Biggest storyline: How will the Memphis Grizzlies do without suspended Ja Morant and injured Stephen Adams? The suspension of and the season-ending injury of Stephen Adams has shaken this Memphis team this season.
The addition of a versatile substitute like Marcus Smart is beneficial. However, Adams’ injury, which is season-ending, adds an extra layer of complexity to the situation that was already complicated by Morant’s suspension. It is necessary to find replacements for at least some of Adams’ screening, passing, and rebounding. While Memphis may still have sufficient resources to make it to the playoffs, they must address the center position to be regarded as a serious contender in the Western Conference this season.
While not having Morant right now is a loss, the Grizzlies have proven in the last two regular seasons that they’ve been able to cope without him for 25 games. Since the beginning of the 2021-2022 season, Memphis has managed to secure a record of 33-17. The majority of these victories were achieved during that season when the team recorded an impressive 21-7 mark without their star player. However, in the 2022-2023 season, their record declined to a more average 12-10. Despite this, Memphis still demonstrated their resilience without Morant, largely due to their strong roster depth in crucial areas.
The Grizzlies’ ability to secure a playoff spot will largely depend on the performance of their youthful core, specifically Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, considering Morant’s absence. Sporting a 29-24 record versus the Grizzlies all-time, Memphis is characterized by its aggressive defense and fast-paced offense, as seen in the preseason in October. This team has proven to be a welcomed challenge for the disciplined and well-coached Heat.
PG: Marcus Smart / Jacob Gilyard (Derrick Rose is out)
SG: Desmond Bane / Luke Kennard
SF: Zaiaire Williams / John Konchar
PF: David Roddy / Jaren Jackson, Jr. (Santi Aldama is out)
C: Jaren Jackson, Jr. / Xavier Tillman