Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pregame: Grizzlies @ Nets 11.27.07

Memphis needs one more win this month to outperform last seasons dismal 4-11 opening. The schedule gets a lot easier in December so a positive exit from November should do a lot to change attitudes about the team. All five of the leading minutes players from Saturday night scored in double figures led by Navarro's 28 and Rudy's 27 pts. Gasol nearly had a double double with 21 pts and 9 rebounds. Gasol's streak of 69 consecutive games in double figures is now the 5th longest active streak in the league. Rudy Gay's 18.2 ppg is high on the team is 2nd among sophomore players in scoring and his 8 rebounds were the 2nd highest total for the season. The team is still waiting on Darko Milicic's return from a sprained thumb. He would be a big help in this game if he could return.

New Jersey ended the week with a hard fought win in LA against the Lakers 102-100. That was the 3rd consecutive road victory for the Nets who defeated Seattle and Portland after starting the trip with a loss at Utah. This streak follows a 6 game losing streak after Vince Carter was hurt. New Jersey is 6-2 in games Carter has played and 1-5 in games he missed. Obviously stopping Vince Carter would appear to be vital for any success. The leading scorer for the Nets is Richard Jefferson at 25.1 ppg. Jason Kidd is 3rd on the team in scoring at 11.4 ppg but is shooting a tepid 36.2% from the floor and only 29.6% from the arc. New Jersey needs to avoid being overconfident after that late night West Coast win and flying back to the East Coast. That is tough physically especially if they believe this is an easy win. Earlier this season New Jersey had big wins on the road only to lose to Seattle and Portland at home.

Bad News for the Grizzlies Defense:
Opponents are shooting 47.7% against Memphis (last in the NBA)

Good News for the Grizzlies Defense:
New Jersey is shooting only 41.3% (2nd to last in the NBA)

Who's the #1 Option on Offense?

Both teams head into this game with an apparent transformation occurring on offense. For the Griz, Rudy Gay, not Pau Gasol, is leading the team in points per game and shot attempts per game. For the Nets, Richard Jefferson, not Vince Carter is leading the team in points per game and shot attempts per game.


Point Guards: Damon Stoudamire vs Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd is having a difficult season shooting the ball but don't let that confuse you with saying he is having a bad season. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kidd is second in the NBA in assists per game (10.4 apg), 12th in the NBA in steals per game (1.86 spg) and an amazing 24th in the league in rebounding (8.4 rpg). Not bad for an old point guard who can't shoot. Damon Stoudamire remains the starting point guard but not the closing point guard. He hasn't sounded upset about this position and he is playing at a surprisingly high level despite his limited minutes ranking 10th in the NBA in Assists per 48 minutes (10.4) but he isn't playing 48 minutes. He isn't even playing 20 mpg right now. Damon is shooting only 35.2% from the field but 39.5% from the arc. The real problem in this match up is that Kidd is 6-4 while the tallest Grizzlies PG is only 6-0.
Advantage: New Jersey

Shooting Guard:
Juan Carlos Navarro vs Vince Carter
This appears on paper to be a horrific mismatch but somehow Navarro keeps playing well despite bad mismatches. Perhaps it is the lackadaisical style that Navarro has but as a starter Navarro is averaging 19.3 ppg, hitting 61.8% of his field goal attempts and 44.4% of his 3 pt attempts. Throw in 3 rebounds and 4 assists per game and he is making a strong case to remain a starter even after Darko returns. Vince Carter is no longer considered Superman but he is still an extremely dangerous scorer. The one aspect of his game missing so far is his 3 pt shot (23.1% from the arc). However since returning from his ankle injury Carter is 3 of 7 from outside. Once again size will be a problem in this match up and don't be surprised to see Miller move back to SG and a big man start instead of Navarro despite JCN's strong play as a starter.
Advantage: New Jersey

Small Forwards: Mike Miller vs Richard Jefferson

A classic battle of physical talents. Mike Miller made this summer's USA Basketball team because of his ability to spread defenses with his long range shot (42.1% from the 3 pt line) but has become a solid rebounder (7.5 rpg) and assist man at 3.8 apg. Richard Jefferson played on the USA basketball team in the Olympics in Athens. His combination of speed and leaping ability makes his a difficult stop for most SF's in the league (25.1 ppg) but his long range shooting has improved the most (41.2% this season). What's more RJ hasn't taken a back seat with Carter's return averaging 29 ppg since his return. This is now Jefferson's team offensively replacing Vince Carter but he hasn't been able to produce wins enough without Carter on the court.
Advantage: New Jersey

Power Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Malik Allen

With Nenad Kristic out the Nets have juggled their lineups looking for the right big man combination. It appears that the journey man Malik Allen has played relatively well in the starting role for New Jersey averaging 8 points and nearly 4 rebounds in his two starts. Rudy Gay has been phenomenal all season especially playing the 'Phoenix 4' averaging 18.6 ppg. What Rudy hasn't done well is rebound averaging fewer than 5 rpg but that seems to be changing. Rudy averaged 7 rpg in the last three games. Malik Allen will be very hard pressed to keep up with Rudy on the perimeter as well.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Pau Gasol vs Sean Williams

Among the major surprises among this season's rookies is Sean Williams. Sure his numbers don't look that impressive but don't let the 8.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg fool you. What he does is block shots and make shots. He could develop into the banger in the middle that the Nets sorely need. Pau seems to be recovering from his early season injuries to become the man in the middle the Grizzlies expected from day one. Gasol has not yet hit the boards the way the Grizzlies want but he is shooting around 50%, scoring around 20 ppg, blocking 2 shots per game and dishing out nearly 4 assists per game. If he starts grabbing 10 boards a game then the Grizzlies will be quite content.
Advantage: Memphis

Benches: Memphis vs New Jersey

New Jersey's bench has been decimated by injury but those same injuries may be the beginning of a far deeper team in New Jersey. Antoine Wright stepped up big when Vince Carter was out. Nenad Kristic's injury has allowed Malik Allen and Sean Williams to get off the bench and produce. Josh Boone and Jamaal Magliore provide potential and experience but neither have shown a lot do far. Former Grizzlies player Eddie Gill's signing shows the weakness New Jersey has at point guard. Bostjan Nachbar has range but but hasn't found accuracy yet this season. Kyle Lowry is showing rookie type errors in the uptempo style that Iavaroni favors. However, when he isn't making turnovers he is creating them. Stromile Swift is having a typical up and down Stro year. Casey Jacobsen and Tarence Kinsey are both losing ground in the battle for playing time as Hakim Warrick continues to make strides. When Darko returns Hakim and Stro will start battling for playing time.
Advantage: Memphis

Other Game Previews
Nets Daily
Joe Netsfan

Got a prediction for the final score? Leave it in the comments.


Anonymous said...

105-98. nets.

BoulderGriz said...

Griz 120 Nets 119 OT

zack said...

griz 111
nets 99

carter and jefferson combine for 67

griz shoot lights out from downtown to seal the win...

MemphisX said...

Nets 104

zack said...

i was pretty darn close...

darren said...

Nets played well, but the Griz played better, Free Kyle Lowry!