Saturday, December 15, 2007

Grizzlies at Orlando 12.15.07

Memphis takes to the road for the first time since the blowout in Atlanta and like that game it is the backside of a back to back. Fatique will play a part in this game but shouldn't be too big a problem with the days off this week the team has had. Memphis is in a critical period right now a 5 game losing streak heading into the Clippers game and a tough schedule ahead with Golden St and San Antonio coming to town before a rematch at Detroit. This is not a game the Grizzlies can afford to get blown out in. Rudy Gay has continued to lead the team in scoring while Gasol is back to being a double-double threat every night but the sudden lack of production from the starting backcourt has raised some thoughts about possibly moving both Damon and Mike to improve in this area.

Orlando has a three game losing streak heading into Friday's game at Charlotte. The slide has been precipitated by a drop in shooting including a 33.8% shooting game against Milwaukee. Orlando needs to find the range to be effective as they are basically playing without a true PF. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis prefer playing on the perimeter which allows Howard to work in the lane unobstructed but if Orlando isn't hitting the outside shots team can double up Howard. If the Magic win the game it will likely be because Gasol couldn't handle Howard down low or Lewis on the perimeter. The Magic's style of play doesn't lend itself well to Gasol's defensive play. Another thing to consider, Coach Stan Van Gundy said that if the Magic starters don't improve their play the lineup could be shaken up.

Point Guards: Damon Stoudamire vs Jameer Nelson
Jameer Nelson is not a deep threat but on the Magic that isn't an issue. Nelson's speed allows him to get into the lane and cause trouble for teams and that is what Stan Van Gundy wants from his point guard. Damon will need to stay in front of Nelson and keep him out of the lane dishing to Howard around the basket or Lewis, Hedo and Bogans on the perimeter. Damon isn't very good at preventing taller PG's from shooting over him but taht shouldn't be an issue against 6-0 Nelson. The lateral quickness could be an issue for Damon however.
Advantage: Orlando

Shoooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Keith Bogans
Keith Bogans is a defense first SG who understands his job is to cover for Lewis and Hedo defensively while hitting the open three when it presents itself. Bogans is good at that hitting 37% of his three point attempts on the season. Miller disappeared against Atlanta and, while rebounding nicely against Detroit, failed to score a basket until the final horn sounded. Miller is the Grizzlies best long range shooter and he has to take more than one long shot in a game. With Bogans not being a serious scoring threat this leaves Miller to focus on his game.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Hedo Turkoglu

Rudy is faciing a totally different player in this game than he faced the night before and Corey Maggette. Hedo appears to love to sit on the three point line and pop up bombs rather than slashing to the paint in an attempt to draw a foul. While he does run the pick and roll well with Howard and has noce ball control skills Hedo has taken 26 more three pt shots than free throws this season. He isn't exactly aggressive with the ball. Hedo's level of play has slowed down after a fast start. In December Hedo is averaging only 16.4 ppg on 38.8 FG% and a 30% 3 pt%. His rebounds however have picked up t0 7.6 rpg. Rudy's performance has reached a new level this month. He is averaging 22.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 2.7 apg in December. Also Rudy is averaging 1.3 spg and 1.2 bpg.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Pau Gasol vs Rashard Lewis
An interesting match up between two max contract players that aren't the best players on their teams. Gasol is in the process of passing the leadership torch to Rudy Gay but Lewis has never been a lead player on an NBA team. Gasol has recovered from an injury plagued opening month where he seemed lost in the new system to average 17.8 ppg and 9.8 rpg in December. Not bad considering he is no longer the #1 offensive option. Rashard Lewis has picked his game in December as well although not as dramatically. Lewis may be the worst rebounding PF in the league at only 5.1 rpg a game. The problem for Gasol will be covering Lewis on the perimeter where he feels most comfortable. Lewis has yet to have a 30 pt game with Orlando but if he is hot and Gasol doesn't guard the perimeter it could happen in this game.
Advantage: Orlando

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Dwight Howard
Darko has had a bad thumb, a bad ankle and this summer a bad attitude but he better put all of that behind him in this battle. Dwight Howard is making a strong case for league MVP and has already been annointed Shaq's replacement as most dominant big man in the game. If anyone in the league should know his game it is Darko who played with Howard the last two seasons. In fact maybe Darko should keep that summer chip on his shoulder in this game as the Magic could easily have resigned Darko if not for their desire to overpay Rashard Lewis. Now is Darko's chance to show the Magic how big a mistake they made by not keeping him. It isn't going to be an easy task with Howard averaging 23 ppg and 15 boards. Perhaps just keeping him at his season average will be enough. The most important thing for Darko is to keep Howard off the offensive glass. Let someone else grab the board but Darko's got to keep Howard off the glass.
Advantage: Orlando

Benches: Memphis vs Orlando

All five of Orlando's starters score in double figures. None of their bench players come close. The best player off the bench right now may be Maurice Evans, a player the Magic acquired for Trevor Ariza earlier this season. Combo guard Keyon Dooling has provided sporadic periods of good play but is inconsistent. Carlos Arroyo confused people in Orlando just like he did in Detroit. He is one of the first off the bench and can run the offense but he is not shooting well this season. The biggest problem for Orlando is the absolute lack of frontcourt support. Brian Cook can hit the three but does little else. Adonal Foyle is barely adequate and Pat Garrity is worse than that. Memphis' bench has two 10 ppg scores in Lowry and Navarro and two front court players capable of exploding in Stromile Swift and Hakim Warrick.
Advantage: Memphis

Other Pre-game sites/Relevant Commentary:
Special thanks to Third Quarter Collapse for their insightful commentary about the Magic. They have an excellent site that I highly recommend.
Believing in Magic

1 comment:

hptmatt said...

this game could be ugly, but...

...the outcome of this game, like many the Grizzlies have lost and could have won, is in the hands of the grizzlies, not the magic.

Being beaten is ok-LOSING is not.

Come on Grizzlies. Show me some fire.