Friday, November 2, 2007

Pregame: Grizzlies vs Indiana 11.03.07

Pregame commentary for the 11.03.07 Indiana at Memphis game, by ChipC3 and Zack. Leave your predictions for the final score in the comments. Check back here after the game for post-game analysis from the SoB crew.

Memphis
opened against San Antonio and then has to face the same Pacer team that embarrassed the Grizzlies during the last pre-season game. Sure most of the starters didn't play and it was only pre-season but Jim O'Brien sent a message in that game. Memphis fans better hope the Spaniards didn't understand it and the veterans can ignore it. The good news is that Indiana is playing their second game in a row and their 3rd game in four days to open the season. The Grizzlies should be better rested and motivated for redemption after the shellacking they received last week.

Indiana opened the season against Washington and then has Miami at home before traveling to Memphis. One couldn't ask for a better opening to the season. Washington put up a fight but lost in OT and Miami is already crying in the press about the injury problems they are facing (no sympathy from Grizz fans). It won't be surprising to see the Pacers coming to Memphis undefeated and looking to continue that streak against a Grizz team they beat handidly twice in the pre-season. Most prognosticators have the Pacers headed for the lottery this year but this team is motivated, talented and deep. They will surprise a lot of people this season.

Trends:

--Indiana is 8-4 all-time playing at Memphis (regular season only). Bonus trend...the Griz are 0-11 playing in Indiana.
--Memphis won their final two Saturday night home games last year (against Chicago and Denver).
--The Grizzlies are undefeated when not playing against the NBA champions this regular season...c'mon, the season is young, trends haven't freaking developed yet! :)

Storylines:

--Gay versus Granger. The matchup of these two similar and young versatile forwards is the most intriguing story line of the night, in my eyes. The case can be made (see this week's cover story in the Memphis Flyer) that success for the Grizzlies this year will ride on the growth of Rudy. I suspect the same could be said for the Pacers with up and coming Danny Granger.
--New Coach, new attitude, and new players. Both teams are looking to rebound from disappointing seasons. Compared to the roster and coaching staff of the Grizzlies and Pacers a year ago, a significant portion of the personnel has changed. The latest buzz around the Pacers right now is that they are team that looks to be much improved from last year, with O'Brien preaching defense and a loose, up-tempo style. We are hearing a very similar message in Memphis right now, especially after the Grizzlies spirited play against the Spurs Wednesday night.
--Pacer's dominating the Grizzlies in the preseason. The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies a combined 144 to 90 in the 1st half of the two preseason games against each other. The preseason doesn't matter, right?

Keys:

--Keep Tinsley from controlling the game. Tinsley is reportedly loving the freedom that O'Brien is giving him. Against the Wizards on opening night, Tinsley nearly had a triple-double and showed great leadership and control of his team, much like he did in the two preseason games against the Griz. Minimizing his impact is paramount tonight (and I suspect slowing down Tinsely will begin with solid transition defense).
--Inside scoring. Right now, I have more confidence in the Grizzlies ability to score buckets (consistently) from 15 feet and in. I think the game plan tonight on offense has to be to feed the Meal Ticket inside, early and often, with a nice spattering of Darko on the side (with his patented baby left hook from the left block).
--Home-court advantage. The home opener seems to have raised the awareness of the new look Grizzlies around town. A vibrant and loud home crowd will help the team keep up the intensity for 48 minutes while they learn to play faster and stay focused and active on defense.

Matchups:

Point Guards; Damon Stoudamire vs Jamal Tinsley
Damon didn't hurt his case for being the starter after his performance against Tony Parker. Damon seems a step too slow to run the uptempo style that Iavaroni left in Phoenix and Damon has never been a defensive minded point guard but Damon brings cool leadership and a big play shot making ability that neither of the young guns possess. Jamal Tinsley is a former Grizzlies draft pick traded to Atlanta and then to Indiana in the deal that brought Pau Gasol to Memphis. Tinsely has fought injury issues almost his entire career. When healthy Tinsely is a an excellent floor general who has a solid post up game. The problem has always been his health which may have been an off-shoot of his conditioning. Right now Tinsley looks to be in excellent shape.
Advantage: Indiana

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Mike Dunleavy
Mike Dunleavy and Mike Miller seem like two players cut from the same mold. Excellent outside shooters with high basketball IQ's and the ability to play a point guard type of role when needed. Both are defensive liabilities although Dunleavy seems to be slightly better than Miller while Miller seems to be slightly better on offense. Still the differences are minimal. Miller didn't show alot in pre-season but came up with a double double on opening night against Bruce Bowen. Having a weaker defender should allow Miller even more offensive contribution. Dunleavy has looked good in spurts but hasn't been able to put it all together yet with any consistency in his career.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Danny Granger
This may be one of the best young SF match ups in the league today. Danny Granger enters his 3rd season as a double digit scorer and a good defender at the 3. Rudy Gay enters his second season as a double digit scorer and a good defender. Maybe they cancel each other out but it should be fun to watch either way. Rudy is the more athletic but Granger is probably the more determined of the two. Rudy has been impressive at times but inconsistency has been his modus operandi. Granger has an additional year of experience and has used that to his advantage looking for more consistency in his game. People in Memphis are not going to be happy with me here.
Advantage: Indiana

Power Forwards: Pau Gasol vs Jermaine O'Neal
It wasn't that long ago that Jermaine O'Neal was considered the hands down better player. Now after another disappointing season and a summer of discontent and trade demands from O'Neal, Gasol may have just past the older O'Neal straight up. Last season O'Neal saw his scoring drop for the 2nd consecutive season and he finished below the 20 pt a game mark for the first time since 2001-02, his first season in Indiana. Gasol on the other hand went over the 20 pt per game standard for the first time and out rebounded O'Neal as well. Two years younger than O'Neal and far less traveled, Gasol seems to still have upside while O'Neal has begun to slide. One has wonder what the continued trade rumors with LA will do to O'Neal's emotional side as well. If it motivates him then Gasol could be in for a long evening.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Jeff Foster
Marc Iavaroni pulled a fast one on opening night inserting Darko into the starting lineup after letting it be known that Stro was the starter. Smart move as Darko has a nice game against Tim Duncan and showed a power and intensity lacking from previous Memphis teams. Jeff Foster has apparently replaced injured Troy Murphy at the center spot and brings a tough, no nonsense atttiude toward defense and rebounding. Keeping Foster off the boards will have to be a main concern for the Grizzlies big men. In the past they haven't been able to do this successfully. All this assumes Troy Murphy isn't healthy of course.
Advantage: Indiana

Benches:
Memphis fixed their bench issues from last season adding two sharpshooters (Juan Carlos Navarro and Casey Jacobsen) to the combination of Kyle Lowry, Stromile Swift and Hakim Warrick to give Memphis a very interesting combination of reserves. Two defensive players and three scorers off the bench is good balance but the reality that these players are all one-dimensional and that may limit their overall effectiveness. Indiana's bench hasn't really added any new names so continuity isn't as big an issue for the Pacers. Ike Diogu has looked impressive during pre-season. Marquis Daniels has also looked sharp but former Tiger Shawne Williams will be serving his 3rd game of his suspension and won't be playing. The Pacers will also be missing Troy Murphy to bolster the bench.
Advantage: Memphis

Coaches: Quick, who was the coach for new Grizz GM Chris Wallace's Boston Celtics team that lost in the Eastern Conference Finals? If you said current Indianapolis Head Coach Jim O'Brien give yourself a prize. O'Brien has coached for over 30 years and held the top job in Philly as well as Indy and Boston. Right now O'Brien has the team playing well but dissent has long been a trademark of O'Brien coached teams in the past and seeing O'Neal demanding a trade already isn't a good sign for the relationship between O'Brien and his star. Iavaroni has been getting sweaty with the team actually lacing it up on the court to show his big men what he wants them to do. Iavaroni's freer offensive sets have pleased the players as well. Now if he could just get the fans to notice.
Advantage: Indiana

Chris Herrington has his Pre-Game Three-Pointer up on Beyond the Arc.

View From the Other Sideline:

Go over to the high-quality Pacers' blog Indy Cornrows to get their thoughts in their game thread.

There is also a game preview on Pacers.com that I highly recommend reading.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chip,

I think you are incorrect when you say that most of the starters did not play against the Pacers. I was there for the debacle and the only starter I remember not playing was Pau. Did I miss someone?

mogroupleader

ChipC3 said...

The starters didn't play meaningful minutes. I didn't mean to imply they didn't play at all. Sorry for that confusion. When none of your regulars play even half the game then I don't consider the starters really playing. They definately didn't play like they did against San Antonio.

zack said...

last game I was only 7 total points off....

this game, I got:

Memphis 111
Indiana 101

Neon Leon said...

Grizzlies 102, Pacers 90.

Amen.

Anonymous said...

From the Indy Cornrow blog...

Projected Starters
PACERS pos. GRIZZLIES
Jermaine O'Neal F Udonis Haslem
Danny Granger F Dorell Wright
Jeff Foster C Darko Milicic
Mike Dunleavy G Mike Miller
Jamaal Tinsley G Damon Stoudamire

ChipC3 said...

Wow. When did the Grizzlies get Udonis Haslem and Dorell Wright?

Indiana 121
Memphis 113