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After a playoff appearance last spring and a hectic summer, the Grizzlies (9-9) are treading water in the Western Conference. 

It's no surprise that Ja Morant leads the team. The electric point guard leads the team in points (25.3), assists (7.1), and steals (1.7). He's also second behind Steven Adams with 5.8 rebounds per game. Not bad for a 6'3, 22-year-old. Morant is aided by a trio of players who average approximately 15+ points per game - Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson, Jr.

The Grizzlies play a downhill style of basketball. They lead the league in points in the paint (53.6). While only the Charlotte Hornets attempt more shots per game. Given their propensity for playing in the lane, they're not the Golden State Warriors. 

However, they are also far from the 'Grit and Grind' style of yesteryear. The Grizzlies have the worst defense in the league, surrendering 115.5 points per game (that's over two points worse than the retirement community Los Angeles Lakers).

Meanwhile, the Hawks (10-9) have won six straight games after losing six consecutive games. Now that they have dug themselves out of the hole they created, it's time to start marking up for lost time. They sit at 9th in the Eastern Conference, but only four games out of the 1-seed. 

Only three teams have a higher offensive rating than the Hawks (111.9). Only the Brooklyn Nets shooter a higher percentage from deep than the Hawks (37.1%) - the downside is the Hawks are 27th in the league in three-point attempts per game (31.9).

Despite their reservoir of shooters, that's not where the Hawks bread is buttered. Precisely 25% of the Hawks plays are pick-and-rolls which is the highest in the league. Trae Young (averaging 25.3 points and 9.1 assists per game) makes defenses pick their poison. It's either try to guard him and/or get dunked on by Clint Capela and John Collins. Over the past ten days, defenses haven't been able to make the right decision.


The Grizzlies are enjoying good health. De'Anthony Melton (right groin soreness) is questionable, while Sam Merrill (left ankle sprain) is out.

The Hawks injury report lists Trae Young (left ankle sprain) as probable and Bogdan Bogdanovic (left hamstring soreness) as questionable. At the same time, De'Andre Hunter (right wrist tendon surgery) and Onyeka Okongwu (right shoulder injury recovery) remain out.

SI Sportsbook has the Grizzlies as 1-point favorites. So basically, a toss-up in a high-scoring affair between two exciting teams. That sounds like a great Friday night to me.

Final Thoughts

I fully believe the Hawks are not only better than the Grizzlies but will win this game. They are red hot and showing no signs of slowing down. Playing the New York Knicks tomorrow night in Atlanta on little rest will be the more challenging test.

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