The 20-7 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 18-9 Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis Thursday night at the Fedex Forum in downtown Memphis right off Beale Street. The game tips off at 7pm and will be broadcast on Bally’s Sports Wisconsin and NBA TV. The game features the top two rebounding teams in the NBA. Memphis averages 115.2 points per game; the Bucks average 112.0 points per game. Ja Morant for the Grizzlies is expected back. He has had to miss a couple of games with a thigh injury.
The Bucks are coming off a strong win against Golden State. Giannis led the way with 30 points. Bobby Portis also had a really strong game scoring 25 and bringing down 11 rebounds. There really is a lot to take away from that win the Bucks can build upon and should. Even with Jrue out, to play 14 guys and only have 3 of them have a negative +/- speaks to a dominant win. Jrue is also expected back.
For one of the first times this season Vegas has the Bucks at a 45% chance to win and 2 ½ point underdogs. The over/under is 227. (It’s almost like they took 115 + 112 and added them. See above.) Memphis is 12-2 at home. But the Bucks are 7-4 away, so it isn’t a “give up” game.
Win the rebounding battle
The Bucks are really doing a nice job this season controlling the glass. So is Memphis. Their center Steven Adams is averaging 10.5 rebounds a game. Because of that, Milwaukee needs strong interior play ( like they have gotten this season) from Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis. Expect to see a little more Serge Ibaka in this one, simply to spell Lopez more.
If one of the teams hits fifty team rebounds first they will probably win.
For the Bucks, while Giannis is the team leader (11.5 rebounds a game), whenever Bobby and Brook have good rebounding games it really helps the winning cause.
Keep that lock down 4th quarter defense going
With this game being on the road, it might come down to the end.
The Bucks have played excellent 4th quarter defense, only giving up around 25 points in the 4th quarter this season. On Tuesday against Golden State they gave up 34 points; that number is pretty high for this team. Interestingly enough the Bucks have managed to hold opponents to right under 30% from behind the arc in the 4th quarter. To win this game the Bucks need to continue that strong three-point defense.
The Opponent: The “Old Vancouver” Memphis Grizzlies
What an interesting team! The Grizzlies are loaded with young, long wings. Dillion Brooks for example has averaged 21 points and 3 rebounds in his career against the Bucks. Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson can also play and score. Memphis really took some draft capital and invested in that position. It has truly paid off. And those guys aren’t even named Ja Morant.
Morant is in the MVP conversation, averaging 27.7 points per game and 7.7 assists. He is an eclectic player who can really push the tempo of a game. He rebounds well for a point guard averaging over 6 ½ boards a game.
Tyus Jones is a back-up point guard who would certainly start for a lot of teams.
Santi Aldama is another player to watch for Memphis. The 21 year old has been in the starting line-up quite a bit for the Griz and is an excellent scorer with his back to the basket.
Things to tell your buddies as you’re watching the game
- Memphis moved from Vancouver to Memphis in the 2001-2002 season. The first ever expansion draft pick was current NBA commentator Greg Anthony. Blue Edwards of Milwaukee Bucks NBA Jam fame was also selected by Vancouver. At the time, however, he was with the Utah Jazz.
- Justin Timberlake is a minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies.
- Khris Middleton went to Texas A+M and played basketball there, averaging only 11.3 points, 4 rebounds and two assists per game. It goes without saying his NBA career continues to be much more prolific.
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