The Boston Celtics head west to face the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on Monday. The visiting team snapped a three-game losing streak with a 112-96 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday by draining 23 shots from beyond the arc.
It was a much-needed victory for the Boston Celtics. They have been looking for relief from a string of losses that had dropped them to sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a 21-21 record.
The Memphis Grizzlies aren’t exactly out of the woods, but winning two of their last three games has helped them through a rough patch the past few weeks.
They’ve won just six of their previous 14 games and are 10th in the Western Conference so far. The Grizzlies remain in the hunt for the playoffs, and the 111-103 win against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday certainly helps their cause.
Fixture - Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies (2020-21 NBA Season)
Date & Time - Monday, March 22nd, 9:00 PM ET (Tuesday, March 23rd, 6:30 AM IST)
Venue - FedExForum, Memphis, TN
Boston Celtics Preview
The Boston Celtics, once one of the top defensive teams in the league, are just a shell of their old selves. They are currently 20th in defensive rating (112.9) this season but have dropped to 26th (117.3) since March 1. That pretty much explains most of their troubles right there.
Coach Brad Stevens hasn’t been able to rally his troops despite Marcus Smart’s return from a lengthy stint on the injured list. The Boston Celtics' effort has been less than inspiring, but help could come soon as the trade deadline nears.
However, the Celtics can’t rely solely on outside help to solve their defensive problems. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Boston Celtics’ top two players, have to show consistency on both ends of the floor if they want their teammates to follow suit.
Key Player - Kemba Walker
It’s been a difficult season for Kemba Walker, who is playing in his 25th game so far this season after receiving a stem cell injection in his knee before the start of the season.
In his last six games, the four-time All-Star is averaging only 14.7 points per game on a woeful 39.2 percent shooting from the field. While it’s commendable that Walker has let the team’s two young stars shine the most, the Boston Celtics still need him to return to his glory days.
Not that he has to score in the high 20s once again, but Walker has to be a better floor general for the team. He is averaging just 4.6 assists this season, but the Celtics need Walker to raise that to at least seven dimes a game.
His matchup on Monday against the Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant could determine the winner of the game.
Boston Celtics Predicted Lineup
G Kemba Walker, G Marcus Smart, F Jaylen Brown, F Jayson Tatum, C Daniel Theis
Memphis Grizzlies Preview
The Memphis Grizzlies have been on a roller-coaster ride this season. With a 19-20 (.487) record, they are just a tad better than last year’s 34-39 (.466) team.
That's not exactly an improvement, particularly since they were touted as a team of the future. With a star like Ja Morant and a dominant center like Jonas Valanciunas, the Memphis Grizzlies should have a better record than a few other teams in the conference.
Against the Boston Celtics - who have a porous defense - Morant and Valanciunas should have a field day in the paint. But that advantage could be canceled out with a matchup problem presented by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Key Player - Ja Morant
Expected to continue his ascendancy to the elite level of point guards this season, Ja Morant couldn’t even crack the 2021 All-Star Game lineup. Last season’s Rookie of the Year has season averages of 19.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game.
But in his last six appearances, the Memphis Grizzlies guard has put up just 15.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in an outing while shooting a horrendous 35.6 percent from the field. Morant's 3-point percentage during that span is even worse, at only 23.5 percent.
If the Memphis Grizzlies are to reach the playoffs this season, Morant’s decision-making will have to improve. However, one move that coach Taylor Jenkins could make is to move his prized sophomore to the shooting guard position and let Tyus Jones play the point.
With his explosive first step, Morant could better serve the team as a two-guard without worrying about getting his teammates involved.
Memphis Grizzlies Predicted Lineup
G Ja Morant, G Grayson Allen, F Dillon Brooks, F Kyle Anderson, C Jonas Valanciunas
Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies Match Prediction
The Boston Celtics begin a four-game road trip with a faceoff against the Memphis Grizzlies. And the time away from home could prove to be a good bonding opportunity for the Celtics to get their heads and hearts right again.
A matchup with the young but underachieving Memphis Grizzlies could be exactly what the doctor ordered for the boys from Beantown.
The Memphis Grizzlies have a good young core with a steady if unspectacular center in Jonas Valanciunas manning the paint. Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis will have his hands full trying to contain Valanciunas, who is averaging a career-high 12.1 boards an outing. Recently, he has been pulling down 14.8 caroms per contest.
It’s up to the Boston Celtics to take him outside of the paint area if they have any hopes of winning against the Memphis Grizzlies. But with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum having an advantage over their frontcourt counterparts, the Celtics should win tonight’s game.
Where to Watch Celtics vs. Grizzlies?
The matchup between the Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics will be televised locally by NBC Sports Boston and FOX Sports Southeast Memphis. For international audiences, the game will be available on NBA League Pass.