Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pregame: Memphis at Milwaukee - 11.14.07

ChipC3 and Zack bring you pregame commentary for the 11.14.07 Memphis at Milwaukee game. Leave your predictions for the final score in the comments.

Memphis
has to play another back to back series with the second game on the road when they travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks. After a disappointing road trip the Grizzlies faced one of the powerhouses in their division in the Houston Rockets. The three days off hopefully allowed Gasol's back to recover and regain the form that we saw at the end of last season. Grumblings are already starting in Memphis to trade their best player so either Gasol needs to step up or the team could collapse around him. Rudy Gay has been impressive at times this season but his lack of passing and consistent rebounding has diminished that somewhat but most problematic has been his inability to remain on the court due to foul troubles. Iavaroni has repeatedly said he doesn't want the team to commit fouls but Darko and Rudy haven't gotten the message yet. Milwaukee has to be seen as a must win this week with games against the Hornets and at the Mavericks coming up on Friday and Saturday.

Milwaukee is looking to regain some composure after the blowout losses at Houston and at San Antonio. Milwaukee has lost all four road games this year but has beaten Toronto and Chicago at the Mecca, I mean the Bradley Center (Call me old fashioned but I miss the old Mecca). Led by sharpshooter Michael Redd (who has been unseasonably cold so far) and getting surprising production from rookie Yi Jianlian, the Bucks are a big team with talent at most positions but not a lot of experience winning games. The biggest weakness for the Bucks has been rebounding where they are led by Redd and Yi at 5.8 a game. Charlie Villanueva has been disappointing so far as has former #1 pick Andrew Bogut.

Trends

--Playing the percentages. One thing is certain about the Grizzlies this year, they want to get easy points. In the first 6 games, only once have the Grizzlies not had more points in the paint than their opponent. The Grizzlies have scored exactly 52 points in the paint in the last 3 games. Similarly, the Griz have shot more free throw attempts than their opponent in all but one game this year. The Grizzlies are averaging 33.5 free throw attempts per game compared to 22.3 for the opposition.
--Tired legs? This is the 5th time in the Grizzlies first 7 games of the season where either the Griz or their opponent was on the back end of a back-to-back (2 times for the Griz, 3 times for the opponent).
--Common opponents. The Griz and Bucks have had 2 common opponents so far this year, the Rockets and Spurs. The Grizzlies played both of those teams at home and played their best games of the year against the Southwest Division foes. Meanwhile, the Bucks played both on the road and got blown out in each.

Storylines

--Fratello is gone!!! The last time the Grizzlies played the Bucks, it was December 27th, 2006. This date is affectionately known to Griz fans as Mike Fratello's last game of his maddening reign in Memphis. Christmas felt like it came 3 days late for most Griz fans, as West gave Frat the ax after a horrible 112-96 loss to the Bucks. A big thank you goes out to the Bucks for that drumming and spurring a long awaiting firing that eventually paved the way for our new and exciting coaching staff this year.
--Bucks return home, expect a win. The Bucks only two victories this year have came in Milwaukee. After getting trounced by Houston and San Antonio on the road, the Bucks will view this game as a must win against a lower tier Grizzlies team who is coming off playing an emotionally charged game the night before.
--Lottery picks playing different roles. Micheal Conley, #4 overall draft pick in 2007, meets #6 overall Yi Jianlian. But their situations couldn't be any more different. Conley wanted to play in Memphis over the other lottery teams. Yi wanted nothing to do with Milwaukee. Conley is hardly seeing the court as he is locked in a heated battle for PG minutes. Yi is not only a starter, but it was rumored he was guaranteed a certain amount of minutes to entice him to sign his rookie contract.

Keys

--Fight through the screens. It is no secret that SG's have killed the Grizzlies this year (particularly T-Mac, Roy, Dunleavy, and Manu). Michael Redd is just as good as a scorer as those 4 guys are. I expect Mike Miller to start out guarding Redd, and as Chip noted, they should be familiar with each other after this past summer. The key to slowing down Redd will be to fight throw the screens the Bucks will use to free him up to shoot. Fighting through screens hasn't exactly been a strong point on defense by the Grizzlies this year, so this game should present a hefty challenge.
--Pound the ball inside. I already mentioned the points in the paint advantage the Grizzlies have had most games this year. Obviously having Pau and Darko available in the post is a big reason why. The Bucks will routinely have an undersized PF playing alongside of Bogut (either Yi or Charlie V), so the opportunity to continue force feeding the big Ivory Towers inside will be there tonight.
--Shorten the rotation. Although against the Rockets 11 players saw the court, our main five players all played between 32 and 36 minutes. No other Grizzlies player played more than 15 minutes. I like this distribution of minutes. If we can consistently have Lowry, Miller, Rudy, Pau and Darko each on the court ~35 minutes a game, I think it will improve execution on both ends of the court (less turnovers and better help side rotation!) and increase the chance to be competitive and get a win. Of course not getting into foul trouble is a prerequisite to having the main guys play most of the minutes.

Matchups

Point Guards: Damon Stoudamire vs Maurice Williams
Damon Stoudamire needs to keep the team under control and hit some open shots to hold onto his starting role. With the season seemingly already slipping away after a 1-4 start, Damon is seen as standing in the way of developing young point guards Michael Conley and Kyle Lowry. Maurice Williams signed a new contract this summer with the Bucks after looking to be a highly sought after free agent. The former Alabama player has been extremely efficient this season shooting 48% from the field, 33% from the arc and dishing out 5 assists a game. What's more impressive is that these numbers have been improving over the last 3 games meaning he is getting into shape. Damon will need to play better than we have seen so far just to make it close.
Advantage: Milwaukee

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Michael Redd

If there are two players that should know each other on these teams it is Miller and Redd. It was expected that the final decision would be between these two players however both ended up making the team. Redd excelled in the competition while Miller struggled to get minutes and didn't shoot well. This season Redd is struggling with his shot but still scoring lot of points (21.7 ppg) is tied for 2nd in rebounds (5.8) and in assists at 3.8 apg. Miller is not scoring a lot of points (12.0 ppg) but doing so efficiently, leads the team in rebounds (9.4 rpg) and Mike is among the team lead in assists at 3.8 apg. Pretty close but is 9 more points a game better than 4 more rebounds? Heck it's a road game for the Grizzlies while the Bucks have been waiting at home for 4 days.
Advantage: Milwaukee

Small Forward: Rudy Gay vs Desmond Mason

Desmond Mason has returned to Milwaukee where he spent his most productive seasons. Time has not been favorable to Desmond however and the leaping ability isn't as amazing anymore and his lack of outside shooting is still bad but he doesn't have to take 3 pt shots. He does occasionally have to go the line and his 45.5% FT% is atrocious. Rudy is on fire right now and looks to be the first perimeter player in Memphis to average over 20 ppg. However he needs to use his size better to get to the boards (only 4.4 a game) and involve more people in the action (1.0 apg) but he is averaging a steal and a block a game. If he could just lower the fouls the sky is the limit for Rudy.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Pau Gasol vs Yi Jianlian

I think it is safe to say that more international fans will be interested in this match up than domestic fans. Spain's greatest player against the next great player from China is a marquee match up around the world but it is unlikely even people in Memphis or Milwaukee will think of this match up first. Gasol has struggled getting out of the blocks this season but is still averaging 16.2 ppg and 6.2 rpg. He is shooting over 50% from the field and 50% from the arc (1 of 2 is 50%) and 89.7% from the line. Yi is averaging 11.8 ppg and 5.8 rpg while shooting 47% from the field. Great numbers for a rookie but Gasol needs to win this match up for Memphis to have a chance.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Mililcic vs Andrew Bogut

Another non-American match up as Australia takes on Serbia in the paint. Bogut hasn't actually been a bust after being drafted #1 by Milwaukee but he hasn't been a star either. This season he averages 8.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg but is shooting only 40.4% from the field. That is terrible for a big man. Darko had been a bust since being drafted #2 by Detroit but has is out to prove that he is more than that. Darko is averaging 9.6 ppg, 8 rpg and getting 1.6 bpg. He is shooting 46.3% from the field which isn't exactly great but a lot better than 40.4%.
Advantage: Memphis

Benches
: Milwaukee basically runs an 8 man rotation and has Charlie Villanueva, Charlie Bell and Bobby Simmons coming off the bench. All three are experienced NBA players who have produced in clutch situations in the past. Dan Gadzurich gets token minutes but hasn't been ineffective when on the court. Memphis' bench hasn't produced at all yet outside of Kyle Lowry. Michael Conley is showing signs of being the player Memphis fans wanted when he was drafted this summer but is still very raw. Casey Jacobsen and Juan Carlos Navarro have not provided the scoring off the bench that was anticipated and the big men of Stro Swift and Hakim Warrick have all but disappeared.
Advantage: Milwaukee

Coaches: Marc Iavaroni vs Larry Krystsoviak

I think I saw a game where both of these guys played at the Mecca in Milwaukee? Actually it was the Bradley Center but I still miss the Mecca. Yes I am that old. Anyway, Krystoviak previously coached the Grizzlies, the Montana Grizzlies that is, before returning to the NBA as an assistant coach to Terry Shots who he replaced near the end of last season. Neither coach has much experience as a head coach but plenty of experience in the NBA. How that will translate to on-court success has yet to be seen. Personally I prefer Iavaroni's experience in the NBA as a head coach under Pat Riley, Mike D'Antoni and working with Pete Newell over Krystoviak's experience at the University of Montana. I don't say this often but...
Advantage: Memphis

Other Game Previews


-- Check out Brew Hoop for a Buck's perspective.

-- The Sports Network

-- Beyond the Arc (Chris Herrington)

-- Grizzlies.com preview.

6 comments:

MemphisX said...

Looking forward to seeing Yi!

The Ivory Towers gathering steam...

GRIZZ 114
bucks 99

ChipC3 said...

The Ivory Towers???? Wasn't it Monday you wrote that Gasol needs to be traded to change the culture of the franchise???

My how opinions change quickly around here. I expected you to say we should trade Gasol now while the fire is hot.

Sorry but reality has to be taken into account. Milwaukee was embarrassed in San Antonio and have been waiting to take it out on someone since then. Memphis played a tough game, flew to Milwaukee and have to play a mad opponent tonight. Not good.

Memphis 104
Milwaukee 113

And MemphisX will post a blog about breaking up the Ivory Towers Thursday afternoon!!! ;^D

zack said...

embrace over-reaction and knee-jerk comments....that is what puts the "atic" in fanatic...

zack said...

Memphis 115
Milwaukee 117

Overtime game...

Yi scores less than 10...

Rudy continues to create more posters...

Redd scores 40...

MemphisX said...

Well my stance on trading Gasol will not change. Doesn't make him a bad player, just a bad fit for my goals for the Grizzlies. I expect him to play well all season like always.

ChipC3 said...

I was just teasing X. You know that don't you?