Last season the New York Knicks lost both matchups against the Memphis Grizzlies. The first head-to-head between the two ended in front of a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd by the score of 120-108 in favor of the Grizzlies on February 2nd 2022. The second defeat was at Memphis in a hard fought game in which the New York Knicks held a big lead going into the fourth quarter on the road. The Knicks weren’t able to close that game either, as they fell by only four points, 118-114. Newly acquired point guard Jalen Brunson and the Knicks face-off against superstar Ja Morant and the Grizzlies opening night, Wednesday October 19th at Memphis. There are a few keys to victory against the ultra talented Memphis Grizzlies that’ll be touched on in this article.
Jalen Brunson Must Attack the Head of the Snake.
Under these circumstances, the head of the snake is Ja Morant. Jalen Brunson must offensively attack the Grizzlies superstar. Knicks now have a starting point guard that opposing coaching personnel must game-plan against. Forcing Ja Morant to guard the crafty Brunson is a beautiful attempt to slow Morant down offensively, basically an attempt to tax Morant’s energy which he’ll need late in the game. Brunson playing Bully basketball against Morant could lead the Grizzlies generational star into foul trouble which would benefit the Knicks tremendously.
Controlling The Tempo is a Crucial Point of Emphasis For the Knicks.
Even though the Knicks are looking to play at a faster pace with Jalen Brunson at the helm, it’s still crucial for the Knicks to force the Grizzlies to play at a lesser pace than what they’re accustomed to. Forcing the Grizzlies to execute against a solid, well prepared Tom Thibodeau defense is the reasonable way to go. The Knicks must be efficient offensively by limiting turnovers and getting to the free throw line.
Defend the Perimeter & Keep Ja Morant Out the Paint.
The Knicks must defend the perimeter. Jalen Brunson isn’t known for sturdy perimeter defense, neither is Evan Fournier. Quentin Grimes if available won’t be fully healthy, therefore, Cam Reddish and Miles McBride would help on the perimeter if Coach Thibodeau decide to go deep into the bench. Ja Morant is a decent three point shooter, however, when he gets downhill, he dominates.
Take Advantage of the Unavailability of Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Grizzlies are going into opening night without a major contributor on both ends of the court. Jaren Jackson Jr is a couple weeks away from 5-5 drills. The 6’11” three point shooting center also has excellent ability to block shots. Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett both excel when getting to the rim. This is a big dilemma for the Grizzlies and their Head Coach Taylor Jenkins has his work cut out when dealing with Jalen Brunson alone. Julius Randle’s eyes will also light up once he sees someone other than Jaren Jackson attempting to defend him. Steven Adams versus Mitchell Robinson is a fun matchup. However, Mitchell Robinson is the most athletic of the two. It’ll be interesting to see who wins the overall center matchup especially with the Knicks having solid center options off the bench in terms of physicality.