The NBA couldn’t even give us a full day to celebrate our epic comeback, as the Kings are back at home tonight to face the Memphis Grizzlies for the final time this season. This is a much different Kings team than the last few times these teams have faced off and Sacramento can no longer really match size with size; The Grizzlies will definitely have the advantage on the interior, especially if Marc Gasol plays.
For rookies Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis, this will be good practice. Skal had perhaps his worst game since getting regular minutes against the Clippers, fouling out in just about 19 minutes and shooting just 1-7 while trying to deal with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Unfortunately for Skal, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are even more physical than those two guys, and he’ll have to avoid getting handsy.
For Willie Cauley-Stein, I’m hoping he can replicate his rebounding effort from yesterday, in which he snagged a career-high 14 caroms, 13 of which came on the defensive end. That should be an area of focus for him going forward as he’s far too athletic and big to only be getting 5 or 6 rebounds a game. He should be closer to 8 or 9 at the very least. Fortunately, Willie’s rebounding has been trending upwards lately, at least on the defensive glass. Last year, he only had a Defensive Rebounding Rate of 16.6%, a good number for a SF but a terrible number for a Center. For most of this year, that number was even lower, but his recent play has elevated that percentage to 18.0%, still not great, but trending towards acceptable.
For the Kings to have a chance to win tonight, they’ll have to find a way to stop Mike Conley, as he’s the engine that makes the Grizzlies run. Conley is averaging a career-best 20.1 points to go with 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds. He’s also shooting 40.2% from three on almost six attempts a game. Conley can kill the Kings from inside and outside, and it will require a team effort to stop him.
The Grizzlies might be without Marc Gasol, who sat out yesterday’s game against the Warriors with a left foot strain. Even if he doesn’t play, the Grizzlies still feature a lot of size with Zach Randolph and JaMychal Green. They are one of the top rebounding teams in the NBA on both ends of the floor.
This will be a tough game for the Kings, but all we can ask is that they compete with the same fire and energy that they showed yesterday against the Clippers.
Tip-off’s at 7:30 p.m. Go Kings!