Sunday, December 30, 2007

Memphis at San Antonio 12.30.07

Memphis plays their last game of 2007 at San Antonio. Many people associated with the Grizzlies are glad to see this year end. A record of 23 wins and 77 losses (heading into the Houston game) can have that effect on an organization. However there are some bright spots peaking through the clouds and one of those is Rudy Gay who's game winning three point shot over Tim Duncan at the buzzer on Dec.19th allowed the Grizzlies to double last seasons total wins in the Southwest Division and it's only December! Sure they only had to win 2 games to do that but an achievement none the less. Going 1-15 in the division last year and 2-8 this season means the Grizzlies head into the weekend's games just 3-16 against the division in 2007.

San Antonio still leads the Western Division despite losing Tim Duncan and Tony Parker to various injuries over parts of December. The surprising thing is that Tony Parker's absence seemed to hurt more than Duncan's. At 20-7 heading into the weekend the Spurs can't afford to play sloppy with Phoenix just one game behind in the standings. San Antonio's nearly unbeatable at home with a 15-1 record and the only loss happening when Tony Parker was out with his injury and that was to 2nd place Phoenix by only 5 points. Strange things are happening in SA these days however. How often does a team honor a former player by retiring his jersey, while he is the Coach of your biggest rivals??? The Spurs did that last week honoring Avery Johnson. And I thought Shane Battier Poster Night was a bad idea!

Point Guards: Damon Stoudamire vs Tony Parker
Damon isn't limping anymore in his recovery from Patella Tendon surgery but he has definately lost a step and even on his best days he never was fast enough to stop Tony Parker. Kyle Lowry's bull dog approach hasn't been slowing down too many PG's lately either. With Conley cleared for workouts he may see action in this game if Lowry and Damon can't keep up although that's doubtful. The only thing slowing down Tony Parker these days is women. Which wouldn't be bad if he hadn't gotten married this summer! Of course, Spurs fan may get to ogle at both Eva Longoria and the 19 yr old french starlet during games.
Advantage: San Antonio

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Michael Finley

At one time Michael Finley was the premier Sg in the Western Conference. Now he is relegated to three point shots after the ball is dumped out. Of course standing wide open is a shot even this old man can hit with regularity at 36.8%. Mike Miller used to disappear against the Spurs but not so much anymore. With Bruce Bowen tied up tring to contain Rudy Gay, Miller is not blanketed so much any more and his season high 31 points are representative of that in the game earlier this month. Mike is averaging 18.7 ppg on 58% from the field and 56% from the arc against San Antonio this year.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Bruce Bowen

Rudy Gay has failed to break 20 points a game in the last 3 games after scoring in the 30's twice in the previous 3 games. Defenses are definitely keying on Rudy and Gasol's presence may be intimidating Rudy's aggressiveness (although Gasol only taking 6 shots against New Orleans doesn't make it seem to be the issue). As has been said before, Rudy seems to play better when he doesn't have to guard slashers and Bruce Bowen is definitely not a slasher. Bruce Bowen is a defender and holding Rudy to 18 ppg on 465 fg shooting and only 18% from the arc (and that includes the 'Dagger in December' which was over Duncan) seems to confirm that Bowen is among the best at what he does. However, Bowen is getting older and Rudy is getting better.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Pau Gasol vs Tim Duncan

Pau Gasol may be happy to not be in Memphis after the fan discontent he has dealt with lately. Really Gasol is not playing that bad. He is averaging 17.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.7 apg and 1.3 bpg despite the injuries and the passing of lead scorer role to Rudy. Compare that to a probably All-Star in Tim Duncan who is averaging 18.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.9apg, 1.7 bpg. So would people think Gasol was all-star material if he averaged just 1 more point a game? Do the 1.8 rebounds per game make that much of a difference? What about the 0.4 bpg? I'm just teasing. The big difference in production isn't the numbers its the rings and Duncan dominates that category because he is a better team player that doesn't worry about the individual categories.
Advantage: San Antonio

Centers: Stromile Swift vs Fabricio Oberto

Stromile Swift was supposed to be one of the biggest benefactors of the Grizzlies up-tempo style. He has played well at times and not so well at others but why is he only getting 17.1 mpg (21.5 as a starter)? Playing way less than half a game Swift is averaging 7.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg and shooting 54.7% from the floor. That isn't bad production for the #3 big man on the roster. Sure it is hit and miss on his performance but he needs to be given more than 17 minutes to determine if he is hot or not. Oberto is only getting 22.7 mpg but that is still 25% more than Stro and he averages only 6.2 ppg but does grab 6.2 rpg as well. Obreto also brings a more consistent effort. Oberto understands his role on the team and does the job he is asked to do every night. Stro is hit or miss.
Advantage: San Antonio

Benches: Memphis vs San Antonio
San Antonio has a luxury most teams can only dream about in Manu Ginobili who comes off the bench to terrorize other teams backups. Averaging 19.2 ppg in only 28.8 mpg Ginobili has already cleared a space on his mantle for this season's 6th man of the year award. How Memphis matches up with the 6-6 shooting guard from Argentina determine the game. Manu lit up Memphis on opening night for 30 points in the Spurs 3 pt win. He has only shot 12-36 in the next two games however. Memphis' bench has been off of late with Navarro finding out how hard the NBA schedule really is, Warrick and Darko are fighting inconsistent playing time and inconsistent time and Kyle Lowry's outside shot is so disrespected around the league opposing teams' PG are camping out around the lane looking to strip whichever big man attempts a move into the paint.
Advantage: San Antonio

UPDATE: Darius Washington was waived Friday by the Spurs.

Zack's Corner

With the way the Grizzlies are playing right now, I think it is healthier for us to look back on the improbable home victory over the Spurs 11 days ago instead. This is all you need to know. Happy New Year!

(Getty Images)


Tim said...

Looking at the picture of our greatest moment of the season(and most likely the best in the last two years), I find it ironic that Pau is nowhere to be seen in the picture. I really think that is almost a sign alone that he is not needed for the future success of this franchise. I appreciate many of the things he did for this team but its time to go.

The Producer said...

The Spurs are 20 -8 and 15 -2 at home.