Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Grizzlies vs San Antonio - 12.19.07

Memphis has 5 players averaging double figures scoring a night. The Grizzlies also have 4 more players averaging more than 7 points a game. The problem is that Head Coach Marc Iavaroni only wants 8 men in the rotation. That leaves someone out in the cold. Pau Gasol's injury however has allowed Coach I to play his rotation now without concern and he is building some continuity finally. How long that last depends on how long Gasol stays injured. Rudy Gay has emerged as a long shot for All-Star consideration this season and has taken a huge step forward in Gasol's absence but the small ball lineup the Grizzlies have been running means Gay is on Tim Duncan. I guess it's no time like the present to see how much further Rudy has to go in his pursuit of All-Star recognition. The Grizzlies need this win to split the two game home stand after losing to Golden St on Monday night.

San Antonio has had to fight thru injuries as well this season. First Duncan went down with a sprained ankle and then Parker went down with a bad ankle although it is rumored he may be back for the Grizzlies. Without Parker and Duncan San Antonio has managed to remain on top of the difficult Southwest division but not without some bumps along the way. Back to back losses to Golden State and the LA Lakers may have only awakened the sleeping giant however. Manu Ginobili is running away with the 6th man of the year award this season and has really stepped up his production in Parker's absence. Poppovich is a solid coach who doesn't allow the team to get too high or too low. Memphis had better not count on a let down from the Spurs in this game especially after losing their first home game of the season against Phoenix Monday night.

Zack's Keys to Victory

1.) Strong Interior Defense by Darko and Swift. In the first Spurs meeting, Darko impressed all Griz fans with his tough interior play against Duncan. However, now he is banged up and has been getting into constant early foul trouble. One of the main ways to keep this game close will be for Darko and Swift to play at a high level on the defensive side.
2.) Rudy Continuing His Strong Play. With Pau out, Rudy is the primary offensive weapon. An off night for him will spell trouble for the Griz.
3.) Our Shooters Getting Separation. I'm worried about Navarro and Miller finding room to get their shots off. In the half court set, both are likely to find Finley, Manu or Bowen giving them little space to shoot with. Usually, the transition game allows for many open 3-point looks, but the Spurs are probably the best transition defense team in the league. I suspect our 3-point shooting percentage tonight will be closely tied to Navarro and Miller being able to get space to shoot.
Bonus Key - Assisted Field Goals.

Point Guards: Damon Stoudamire vs Jacque Vaughn
If Memphis gets lucky, and it would be the first time this season that happened, then Tony Parker will rest his ankle one more game before returning. Vaughn is a solid point who makes intelligent decisions but he isn't Tony Parker who's blazing speed and ability to break down defenses is among the best in the league. Damon Stoudamire's shot has been hot and cold as has his overall play. Damon, more than anyone else on the Grizzlies team, needs to hit some shots to stay involved in the game. When contributing on the scoreboard early, the passing and overall play is better from him. If Parker plays then all bets are off.
Advantage: Memphis

Shooting Guards: Juan Carlos Navarro vs Michael Finley

Finley has lost the ability to play all out for 40 minutes a night but he can still do it in spurts and he trusts his replacement. If Navarro can light up Finley early maybe that will force Manu to play more minutes than usual, but is that a good thing? Navarro has rebound his shooting stroke and that helps tremendously in opening up the interior for Rudy and others to work. Navarro's size won't make it hard for Finley to get his shot off however.
Advantage: San Antonio

Small Forwards: Mike Miller vs Bruce Bowen

Mike Miller continues to hit 50% of his shots, 40% of his threes and grab a ton of rebounds for a SG/SF but has yet to make an impact when it mattered or so it appears. Mike had a huge 4th quarter against Golden St but the game was already decided before he started lighting it up. Memphis needs Mike aggressive from the start not in spurts. Bruce Bowen is known for one on one defense so Mike will have to step up his game again. In the two previous games Rudy scored a combined 25 pts against Bowen. With no Gasol he needs to be back in the 25 pt range tonight. Bowen is old and crafty. That won't be easy.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Tim Duncan

Rudy Gay has scored 32 points in back to back games while shooting 24-39 over that stretch. Unfortunately Rudy has only 2 assists in the last three games but that is a little deceiving. It isn't like Rudy is selfish. He's just the best option. No one else wants to shoot. Rudy passes and the open player passes it on. It is hard to get assists that way. Tim Duncan is back from his sprained ankle and will make it extremely difficult for Rudy on the defensive end while forcing Rudy to hit outside shots. Speed could work in Rudy's favor but you know Duncan will get the benefit of every call so Rudy has to be very careful not to get in foul trouble.
Advantage: San Antonio

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Frabricio Oberto

If Darko's ankle allows he should be able to control Oberto. He will predominantly be matched up defensively with Duncan anyway. If Rudy draws Duncan away from the hoop Darko will have to be aggressive to the glass. Oberto is a crafty vet who will play on Darko's tendency to fade away from the hoop. As long as he keeps Darko off the boards he's done his job. Darko's so beat up that shouldn't be a problem for Oberto.
Advantage: San Antonio

Benches: Memphis vs San Antonio

San Antonio has more all-stars on their bench than Memphis has had in their franchises history. Okay that sounds dramatic since Memphis has only one all-star in their history but it is true also. Manu Ginobili, soon to be announced as the 6th man of the year award winner and first to be so proclaimed before January 1st, leads the bench but Brent Barry, Robert Horry and Matt Bonner all contribute. If not in scoring per se then in doing the 'glue' things that make teams champions. Memphis bench has been playing better of late. Warrick provides 'point a minute' production and Stromile Swift is erratic but good when playing well. Kyle Lowry weathered his first slump as a pro and seems to be back on fire. The problem comes at back up SF where no one has contributed. Miller can't play 45 minutes a night. Jacobsen has been terrible offensively which was supposed to be his strength and Kinsey has not been any better plus his size makes it difficult to put him on the blocks.
Advantage: San Antonio

Other Previews/Commentary Sites:
Pounding the Rock
Spur of the Moment


David Thiessen said...

The Grizzlies are going to have a hard time without Gasol and a gimpy Darko. For a Spurs take on the game, check out Spur of the Moment.

MemphisX said...

Grizz by 6

ChipC3 said...

Oh my. X is predicting a Grizzlies win tonight!

Grizzlies: 95
Spurs: 102

Anonymous said...

Ginobili killed the Grizzlies in the first game. TP took it to the Grizzlies in the second game. I'll say TD wil take a swipe for 24pts and 13rebs.

Spurs- 99
Grizzlies- 86

hptmatt said...

Grizzlies 102

Yes, i can provide a clean sample-why do you ask? ;)

If the grizzlies can pull this game into the "W" side of things, eyes will be opened.

God and we're @ DET tomorrow. Nice Christmas gift Stu.

nancyw said...

Being the optimist that I am, I can't even predict a Griz win for tonight. I'm hoping for a miracle, but on the other hand, I just hope we don't get clobbered. Rudy needs to have another good game and stay out of foul trouble.