Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns meet in a key game in the Western Conference on Tuesday and both teams are looking to respond after disappointing defeats on Christmas Day.
Memphis faced champions Golden State Warriors in San Francisco as they had a chance to avenge their last season’s playoff series defeat.
The Dubs were without talisman Stephen Curry and they were in poor form so it looked as if the Grizzlies were well placed to secure a win on the marquee day in the NBA regular season schedule.
However, Golden State produced an impressive team performance and the Grizzlies just couldn’t click into gear, with Ja Morant their only player who really managed to make an impact, and they will be desperate to get back to winning ways when Phoenix visit.
The Suns were also in action on Christmas Day as they lost out in a close game with the Nuggets in Denver. Phoenix held an eight-point lead at one stage in the fourth quarter, but were pegged back and then lost out in overtime.
Memphis have a 20-12 overall record and sit in third spot in the West, while Phoenix sit out place below them on 19-15.
Both of these teams will feel the top seed is an achievable goal in the regular season before they battle it out for the championship and Tuesday’s game promises to be an intriguing affair.
These two teams may look fairly evenly-matched based on the Western Conference standings, but Memphis have dominated the recent meetings.
The Grizzlies have won the last three games between these two sides and their last victory was a thumping 125-100 blowout win in Phoenix just a few days ago - and they led by as much as 34 points in the fourth quarter before easing off when the game had been decided.
Memphis have lost three of their last four games, the one success being that win over the Suns, but their issues have come on the road.
At the FedExForum the Grizzlies boast a joint conference best record of 13-2 and have won their last seven - including a huge 142-101 success over Milwaukee Bucks in their last home assignment.
The Suns are struggling for form as they have lost each of their last three, while they have five defeats in their last six road games.
The Suns have a couple of injury issues and their big problem is guard Devin Booker, who is rated as day-to-day but seems unlikely to be involved.
Booker scored a season-high 58 points in a win over New Orleans Pelicans earlier this month, but then missed three games with a groin injury.
The 26-year-old did return for the Christmas Day game at Denver but he lasted just four minutes before exiting due to a groin problem and he is unlikely to be risked at Memphis even if the problem is not too serious.
Landry Shamet has stepped up in the absence of Booker, averaging 22.5 points-per-game over his last four games, and he looks set to start in Memphis if they are without their star shooting guard.
The Suns will also be without long term injury victim Cameron Johnson due to a knee issue, while Cameron Payne will join the forward on the sidelines as he is set to miss a seventh straight game with a foot injury.
Danny Green is Memphis’ only absentee and the veteran is still waiting to make his debut due to a knee injury, while Desmond Bane has now fully recovered from a toe issue that saw him sit out 16 consecutive games.
If Phoenix were at full strength they should be able to give the Grizzlies a test in Memphis but their injury issues and lack of form suggests a home win should be on the cards in this Western Conference match-up.
That is reflected in the odds in both the Money Line and the Point Spread and, as Memphis dished out a big defeat on the Suns in Arizona just a few days ago, they may well be able to beat their -7.5 handicap in the Point Spread at 10/11.
Ja Morant had a quiet game when these teams met earlier this month with just 12 points, but he is averaging 26.5 per-game this season and scored 34 in the defeat to Golden State.