One Game We Will Definitely Watch Tonight: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Atlanta Hawks
In a lot of ways, this is the exact kind of game we had in mind when we decided to do a feature spotlighting one matchup each night. Some games feature two high profile teams with major star power (see tonight’s alternate game of Orlando vs. Chicago), and these games are often amazing to watch. Other games feature two down-in-the-dumps squads who are playing merely for pride, and these games often produce a sort of human drama that we enjoy greatly. But this kind of game—the kind that features two teams that are competitive but not elite, two teams with exciting players who are not quite household names, two teams that are likely to be fighting for a playoff spot come April—is sort of what we live for.
It doesn’t hurt that these teams have both been feeling hot, hot, hot lately, with Memphis winning four out of its last five and the Hawks looking to extend their win streak to four. Mike Conley is coming off his best game of the year against the Lakers, and there has been no lack of fawning over the breakout season that Rudy Gay has been putting together. On top of that, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have been a shockingly consistent frontcourt duo, albeit one far less cool than K. Love and Be Easy. All of a sudden, the Grizz are one of the most exciting teams in the league.
The Hawks, though, have been creating some excitement as well. Their recent winning ways have gotten them back to second in the Southeast, although I’d be shocked to see them there at the end of the season (and no, not because they’ll push Orlando out of first). Josh Smith and Al Horford are having career years, and if the slumping Joe Johnson and his elbow are feeling well enough for him to play, he may be able to turn things around against a team that has had trouble defending him on the wing.
The Hawks beat the Grizzlies 119-104 in their season opener. Look for this one to be tighter, and look for us to have our noses pressed up to the screen and giving belated thanks for a matchup with this much potential for sneaky greatness.
One Game We Won't Be Watching Tonight: Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors
Wall, Yi, and Thornton are all questionable for this game. The Toronto Raptors are Canadian, and in my book, that means they're always questionable. (Sorry, I'm reading Infinite Jest right now.) The fact of the matter is, watching either of these teams makes me feel sad, the Wizards for obvious reason, and the Raptors because I want so badly for DeRozan to start living up to his vertical. And you know what? I want to be happy tonight.