Extra Pass: Morant’s Grizzlies gear up for CP3, Suns

Published December 23, 2022, 3:00 PMMiguel Flores

Two top teams in the West clash tomorrow on NBA League Pass.

What's up with the Memphis Grizzlies?

What's better than something petty before Christmas? With the Memphis Grizzlies playing tomorrow, the forecast should read a high possibility for at least a drizzle of non-consequential drama.

The Grizzlies have been great this season, sitting tied for the top spot in the West with the Denver Nuggets with a 19-11 record. They've gotten it done on both ends, ranking fifth in defensive and 10th in offensive rating with more than a third of the season behind us.

There hasn't been enough said by just how well the Grizzlies have put it together this season. They have a deep bench with role players ready to fill any gap and maintain the intensity of their starting unit. Their core guys have shown the willingness to cede a portion of their individual games to benefit the entire team.

But the reason to watch the Grizzlies tomorrow is Ja Morant. His shooting has cooled off from where it was at the beginning of the season but he’s still must-see TV.

Morant is averaging 27.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 7.8 assists, playing at a First Team All-NBA level. He’s been ready to carry the Grizzlies through tough stretches and looks like the type of star who can push a team to a deep playoff run.

He's also their best trash-talker. Yesterday, he stoked some flames when his interview with Malika Andrews dropped. When asked about which team he was looking forward to facing in the postseason, Morant answered the Boston Celtics because he’s confident they can handle the Western Conference. That’s perfect timing for their opponents tomorrow.

What’s up with the Phoenix Suns?

There should be a study on how quickly public opinion has switched up on the Phoenix Suns. Just two seasons ago, they were the darlings of the league – the most fun fourth-quarter team with a nice mix of young stars and dogged veterans.

Now, they’re the most hated team in the league. It seems like almost every fanbase outside of Arizona has been fed up with their antics. Whether it's working out after games or the enforcement of unspoken rules, the Suns do something that somehow gets into opposing fans’ nerves.

Really, this sort of tracks with Chris Paul teams. Just look at the Lob City Los Angeles Clippers; they started as the most fun team in the league, then eventually annoyed the entire league with their brash talking and referee complaining. Paul, for all his point godliness, has always caught flack for his style of play. For as much IQ and skill he possesses, Paul also has the signature defensive mechanism of small kings. Pesky is the polite word for his on-court persona.

This season, Paul’s detractors are eating well. At the tender age of 37 with a colorful injury history, Paul is showing stark signs of decline. He’s averaging a career-low 12.1 points and 39.3 percent shooting from the field. The Suns have fielded plenty of drama from their outgoing owner in Rober Sarver to their icy offseason interactions. But Paul has become their biggest scapegoat.

Still, the Suns are low-key one of the best in the West, just one game behind the Grizzlies with a 19-13 record. When healthy, they’ve been awesome this season. Tomorrow, they won’t have Devin Booker due to a groin injury but they should still put up a fight against the Grizzlies.

Where to watch

The Suns have already gotten into it with the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Clippers this season. There should be some fireworks with the rowdy Grizzlies tomorrow when they meet at 11:00 AM live on NBA League Pass.