After a split on the two game West Coast road trip to open the season, the Grizzlies play the Utah Jazz Monday night at FedEx Forum in the home opener for the Grizzlies. Memphis lost 101-92 at the LA Clippers on Halloween, but rebounded with a 104-94 win at the Golden State Warriors Friday night. Still, the 1-1 Grizzlies are in last place in the Southwest Division as the rest of the teams have at least 2 wins.
Although both Memphis and Utah made the playoffs last year in the Western Conference, both were eliminated in the first round. Utah was swept by San Antonio and Memphis lost a heartbreaking seven game series to the Clippers. The Jazz beat the Grizzlies in 2 of the 3 meetings last year during the lockout shortened season last year. Utah won at home 94-85 and in Memphis 98-88. The Grizzlies won 103-98 in Memphis late in the season.
Utah is 1-2 this season under coach Tyrone Corbin. The Jazz lost at San Antonio Saturday 110-100. Early in the season six Utah players are averaging double digits in scoring. Point guard Mo Williams is averaging 22 points, 6.3 assists, and 1.7 steals a game to lead the Jazz in all three categories. Power forward Paul Millsap is averaging 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds to lead the team, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Guard Randy Foye averages 13.3 points and 1.7 assists. Guard Gordon Hayward averages 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Center Al Jefferson averages 12.7 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. Forward Marvin Williams averages 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds. Derrick Favors averages 7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game to lead the team. Guards Raja Bell (personal) and Earl Watson (knee) are both out indefinitely.
Utah is outscoring teams 100-97 so far this season. The Jazz are shooting 44.2% as a team including 38.2% from three point range. Utah is shooting 73.7% as a team from the free throw line. The Jazz are sixth in rebounding in the league with 45.7 per game. Jazz opponents are shooting 46.2% from the field including 46.9% from 3 point range. Utah opponents are making 74.6% from the free throw line. Utah opponents are averaging 38.3 rebounds per game.
Memphis is coached by Lionel Hollins. Small forward Rudy Gay is averaging 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block a game. Center Marc Gasol is averaging 20.5 points to lead the team, 6.5 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 block per game. Power forward Zach Randolph is averaging 15 points, 15 rebounds to lead the team, 1.5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block per game. Gay, Gasol, and Randolph are tied for the team lead in blocks. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. is averaging 14 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals a game. He leads the Grizzlies in steals and assists. Tony Allen and Wayne Ellington each average 7 points a game. Forward Darrell Arthur is out indefinitely as he recovers from a stress fracture.
The Grizzlies are outscoring teams 98-97.5 this season. Memphis is shooting 41.7% from the field as a team, and 29.6% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #5 in free throw shooting making 81.2% from the line. Memphis averages 42 rebounds per game. Memphis opponents are shooting 48.1% from the field, including 42.9% from the free throw line. Grizzly opponents average 37.5 rebounds per game.
The Grizzlies went 26-7 at home during the regular season last year, but one of those losses came to Utah. It should be a raucous home crowd for the home opener. It will also be the dawn of a new era for the Grizzlies as new majority owner Robert Pera holds his introductory press conference Monday afternoon. I think the Grizzlies win a close game at home to move to 2-1 this season.