Sixers visit Grizzlies looking to claim fourth straight win

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia 76ers (22-20) look to extend their winning streak to four games this evening as they hit the floor in Memphis, Tennessee for a match-up against the Grizzlies (16-29). The Sixers have an impressive 5-1 record in the month of January and have won eight of their last 10 games following a rough December stretch. Meanwhile, Memphis is 13 games under the .500 mark, but has been playing better as of late. They've earned victories in three of their last four and four of the last six. They are 4-4 in the month of January.

The Playoff Picture

Whether you thought the playoffs were a realistic thought or not for the 2017-18 Sixers, they should be a very real thought at this point. Halfway through the season, the Sixers find themselves two games over .500 and in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Due to the tightness of the standings though, Philadelphia sits just 3.5 games behind Cleveland for the three seed while also being 3.5 games ahead of the 21-26 Knicks. If the postseason started today, the Sixers would find themselves in an opening series with the Toronto Raptors, who currently stand two games behind the Celtics for first place in the conference. 

For the Grizzlies, playoffs are not really in the picture at the moment. Unless something drastically changes, this will be the first time since the 2009-10 season that Memphis finishes under .500 and the first time since the 2010-11 season that they would not make the playoffs. They've dealt with injuries to key guys like Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons, so they are relying heavily on the services of Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore and Marc Gasol. Memphis is seven games out of the eight seed in the playoffs and they would need to surpass the Suns, Lakers, Jazz, Nuggets and Clippers over the second half of the season.

More minutes for TLC?

One game won't win over Sixers fans, but the team's victory against Milwaukee on Saturday had to build some confidence for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. TLC came into the season after showing some positive development in the second half of 2016-17, but has vastly under-performed. His struggles, paired with those of Jerryd Bayless, exposed the Sixers' lack of depth on the wing as this season has progressed.

On Saturday though, TLC didn't try to do too much, but instead let the game come to him and it paid off. Filling in as a starter for Bayless against the Bucks, Luwawu-Cabarrot played 30 minutes, scoring 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. His biggest stretch came in the fourth quarter. With the Sixers leading by just four heading into the final 12 minutes, TLC scored eight of his 16 points in the fourth, hitting all three of his shots, two of which were triples. After the Bucks cut the lead to 84-82 in the first few minutes of the quarter, TLC drained a three to put Philadelphia up by five. His second three of the quarter extended their advantage to 15 with 8:26 to go in the quarter. 

TLC didn't turn the ball over once and also tallied three rebounds and two assists. With JJ Redick still nursing a left leg injury, expect Luwawu-Cabarrot to get more of an extended look in relief of Jerryd Bayless moving forward, especially if Bayless remains sidelined with his sore left wrist.

Philly native Tyreke Evans leading Grizzlies

In his 10th NBA season, veteran guard Tyreke Evans is having a one of his best career years with the Memphis Grizzlies. Originally from Chester, PA, Evans was drafted fourth overall in 2009 and spent his first four seasons with the Kings before heading to New Orleans, where he also spent four years. Memphis signed Evans to a low-risk one-year deal worth $3.3 million in July 2017.

The deal has paid off. This season with the Grizzlies, he's averaging 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 39.2 percent from beyond the arc. Evans' scoring average is his best since his rookie season, when he averaged 20.1 ppg for Sacramento. It's his best rebounding and assist season since 2015-16 as well. His 45.5 percent shooting percentage is Evans' best since the 2012-13 season, when he shot 47.8 percent. 

In nine career games against the Sixers, Evans is averaging 14.7 points and 4.9 assists per game.

Projected Lineups

Matchup Preview  |  January 22, 2018
Philadelphia 76ers
(22-20, 11-10 Away)
  Memphis Grizzlies
(16-29, 11-13 Home)
Stats Comparison
108.3 Points Per Game 99.5
107.2 PPG Allowed 102.1
.464 Field Goal % .445
.357 3-Point % .352
47.4 Rebounds 40.5
25.9 Assists 20.8
8.5 Steals 7.4
5.1 Blocks 5.2
17.5 Turnovers 13.6
Projected Starters
Ben Simmons Point Guard Tyreke Evans
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot Shooting Guard Ben McLemore
Robert Covington Small Forward Dillon Brooks*
Dario Saric Power Forward Jarell Martin*
Joel Embiid Center Marc Gasol
Injury Report
Jerryd Bayless (wrist/out)
  Dillon Brooks (illness/questionable)
JJ Redick (leg/out)
  Mario Chalmers (shoulder/questionable)
    Andrew Harrison (shoulder/probable)
    Jarell Martin (hand/questionable)
    Brandan Wright (illness/game-time decision)

Game Information

Tip-off: 8pm

Location: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee

TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Go to top button