There will not be a Zion Williamson-Ja Morant faceoff this Thursday when the New Orleans Pelicans and the Memphis Grizzlies open their respective seasons against each other. Still, this is a game worth the attention of fans.
Catch this game live on Thursday, October 26, 2023 at 8:00 AM, Manila time
Away: New Orleans Pelicans (0-0/0-0 Away)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: CJ McCollum
- SG: Brandon Ingram
- SF: Herbert Jones
- PF: Zion Williamson
- C: Jonas Valanciunas
The Pelicans open their season in enemy territory this Thursday with Zion Williamson and company about to test the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies. Williamson is healthy, and when he’s on the floor, great things always happen for New Orleans. The outlook for New Orleans gets better when considering the fact that CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram are also healthy for the season opener. In the 2022-23 NBA campaign, those three played just 10 games together.
Those three are slated to carry an even bigger load in the Memphis game, with New Orleans not expected to have Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III, and Naji Marshall in their Pelicans uniforms.
But don’t forget about Herbert Jones, who could be the X-factor for New Orleans, considering that he went off for 35 points the last time these two teams met back in April, which the Pels won at home, 138-131 (OT).
Home: Memphis Grizzlies (0-0/0-0 Home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Marcus Smart
- SG: Desmond Bane
- SF: Ziaire Williams
- PF: Jaren Jackson Jr.
- C: Xavier Tillman Sr.
The Grizzlies are coming into the 2023-24 season with plenty of questions, particularly centered around their chances of surviving the portion of the season without the suspended Ja Morant. Marcus Smart, however, isn’t a bad option at all at the point guard position in lieu of Morant. Smart’s not going to entirely cover the void temporarily left by Morant, especially when it comes to getting buckets, but he makes up for it with his defense.
Speaking of which, the Grizzlies’ starting unit alone has two Defensive Player of the Year winners in Smart and Jaren Jackson Jr. Without Morant, Desmond Bane should see a ton of touches, and the Grizzlies certainly trust him with the ball. He finished second on the team in scoring last season with 21.5 points per game, while shooting 40.8% from deep.
The Grizzlies have covered the spread in five of their last seven games versus the Pelicans.
Spread: The Grizzlies (+1.5) cover the spread.
Over/Under: The total (226.5) hits the Over.