1/22 Game Preview: Grizzlies at Celtics
The Boston Celtics made a statement in their last win, but there's still work to be done as they host the surging Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
The Celtics enter off a 139-107 rout of the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. The victory snapped a three-game skid for Boston and ended a run of six losses in eight games.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, had a seven-game winning streak come to an end when they fell 126-116 to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. Memphis has still won 10 of its last 14 to put itself back in playoff position.
The meeting is the first between the Celtics and Grizzlies this season; the teams will meet again in Memphis on March 25. Boston has won seven straight in the series.
Back at full strength with the returns of Kemba Walker (knee) and Jaylen Brown (thumb) from injury, the Celtics handed the Lakers their worst loss of the season in dominant fashion. Boston led by as much as 34 and got 67 points combined from the trio of Walker, Brown and Jayson Tatum.
"We needed to play well," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. "It's good to be as close to full as we've been, from a health standpoint. I'm hoping that we can maintain that and build off of it."
Entering the contest, Boston had been in a funk in which it lost home games to much weaker clubs in the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns. With the team's weaknesses exposed, the blowout of the Lakers was important for Celtics players to remember what they're capable of accomplishing.
"It was a reminder of how good we can really be and how good we really are and how we were playing earlier in the season," said Walker. "That's how we were playing. We had great energy, pressured the basketball, just having fun, playing with enthusiasm and passion. I think we got away from that a little bit."
Walker is probable for Wednesday's contest with his knee soreness, while Brown is questionable with a right ankle sprain apparently suffered Monday.
The Grizzlies will similarly look to recapture the playing style of their winning streak after stumbling at home against the Pelicans. Despite the defeat, Memphis could take solace postgame in cutting what once was a 25-point deficit to five in the game's waning minutes.
"They played great, and we didn't have it today," said Grizzlies coach head Taylor Jenkins. "Just timing was off and all of that. I'm proud of the guys competing, and we cut it down to five. It was definitely ugly for a good majority of the game."
Memphis allowed 21 3-pointers in the contest as it fell behind early. Dillon Brooks matched his season high with 31 points, but rookie phenom Ja Morant was held to three points before scoring 13 during the fourth-quarter push.
"It's just one of those nights, I guess," said Morant. "Nobody likes losing. That's no good, but we are turning the page."