Friday, January 4, 2008

Memphis at Boston - 1.4.08

Memphis had been reeling of late with successive blowout losses to Houston, New Orleans and San Antonio until the Indiana game. Frankly the Grizzlies were playing some of the worst basketball in the league at the end of the year and things could only improve and did in the Indiana game. Memphis big three of Gay, Gasol and Miller had not been able to put together consistent efforts by even two of the players much less all three on any given night until the Indiana game. More time together under Iavaroni's system can only improve things as the Indiana game showed. The time off gave Conley and Darko further time to heal and they both looked better in the Indiana game especially Conley who started his first game. Not that any of these things should matter in this game. This will be the Grizzlies 3rd consecutive road game and we are talking about Boston in the Garden, I mean Fleet Center, or whatever they call their new digs.

Boston has opened the season with the NBA's best record and arguably the best big three in league history. The 'Boston Three Party' as ESPN dubbed them have pulled an otherwise inexperienced and ineffective team to the top of the standings by playing team ball with none of the three seemingly unhappy sharing the work load. So far KG and Paul Pierce have both won Players of the Week honors with Pierce receiving the honor for the last week of 2007. Kevin Garnett still leads all players in All-Star votes which is amazing considering how many Chinese routinely vote for Yao Ming. Rajon Rhondo has made strides to be a top flight point guard which has helped the team reach this level of play quickly. Throw on top the fact that the Celtics haven't left Boston since Dec 30th and this has the makings of an ugly game.

Point Guards: Michael Conley vs Rajon Rhondo
It will be speed on speed in this match up of ultra fast point guards. Conley took over the starters role in Indiana and produced. His 7 pts, 6 rebounds, 8 assists and three steals help the Grizz control the ball and push the tempo. Rhondo won't be impressed as easily with Conley's speed. The 2nd yr player from Kentucky is averaging 1.9 spg in only 31 minutes. Those quick hands will probably give any Grizz point guard fits. Rhondo's major weakness is a poor shooting touch but that is well hidden with the big guns in Boston. The key will be if his defensive pressure can combine with the ghosts of the Garden to unnerve the cool looking Conley. It is a big test in seeing how ready Conley really is.
Advantage: Boston

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Ray Allen

Ray Allen is 2nd on the Celtics in scoring at 19.1 ppg but his season high is 33. The reason I bring up his season high is that often that number gets set against the Grizzlies. Ray Allen has always been a thorn in the Grizzlies side as well. Who can forget the 25 second shot clock he got with Seattle where he nailed a three pointed after the buzzer to beat the Grizzlies? The NBA actually wrote a letter of apology to the Grizzlies after that game. Mike Miller has had some success scoring on Allen as well but if Ray gets hot Mike will struggle to stay up.
Advantage: Boston

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Paul Pierce

Rudy Gay is an up and coming star who has all the moves but seems to lack the mental toughness that comes from experience but he is only 21 yrs old after all. Paul Pierce is a veteran who had carried teams on his back single-handed as well as functioned well in a team oriented environment. Basically Pierce is willing to do whatever it takes to win. His scoring and rebounding are down this season but he will gladly trade that to win more games and you don't win a lot more than the Celtics this season. Not having to carry all of the scoring load this season has allowed Pierce to increase his shooting percentages making his a more effective scorer.
Advantage: Boston

Power Forwards: Pau Gasol vs Kevin Garnett

How can Boston support their highest paid player if he is only the #3 scorer on the team? Memphis has turned their back on Gasol because he is the highest paid player and is only 2nd on the team in scoring. Sure Garnett leads his team in rebounds but so does Gasol so that is a push. Okay if you count some arbitrary statistic like Wins and Losses it could make a difference but those statistics are meaningless when comparing individual players right? Garnett is leading the Celtics emotionally and with him the team is scared to lose. Not scared like the refs were after Darko's tirade but scared just the same.
Advantage: Boston

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins is finally learning to play after being drafted in 2003 straight out of high school by the Grizzlies who immediately traded him to Boston for trash. Wait a minute, who else was drafted that season? Why Darko Milicic with the 2nd pick in the draft by Detroit. Who would have thought that 4 years later both of these players would still be struggling to establish themselves in the league and that Perkins would have the upper hand? Neither player is very good yet but Perkins is benefiting from superior players around him to build up his confidence. Darko's confidence is reportedly lower than ever. Maybe he is finally realizing that he isn't as good as he thought he was...
Advantage: Boston

Benches: Memphis vs Boston

Finally! Memphis may have an edge somewhere. Boston traded away their entire bench to get Garnett, a good trade by the way, but Boston has survived by relying on their starting 3 anyways. Still Tony Allen, James Posey and Eddie House provide some experience off the bench and Glen 'Big Daddy' Davis will be difficult to contain for Memphis' lighter interior players. Memphis' bench has not been that effective of late. Navarro continues to score above 10 ppg on average but Lowry seems to be hitting the rookie wall and Stro is only good for 10 minutes of action during the 18 minutes he is on the court.
Advantage: Boston

Other Blog Commentaries:
Celtics Blog
Green Bandwagon
Loy's Place


the serbian swatter said...

Nice cheap shot on Darko. Darko is just now starting to recover from his thumb and ankle sprains of last month. If you've ever had a severe sprain, then you know just how hard it is to get back to top form, even when you don't have to cope with an NBA schedule.

Additionally, it's not at all obvious that Kendrick Perkins has the upper hand developmentally. Statistically, they are equivalent, and observationally, Darko is a far superior defenseman.

“Maybe he is finally realizing that he isn't as good as he thought he was...” When has Darko ever shown himself to be cocky? He’s about as humble as they get.

ChipC3 said...

I know his thumb is hurt but that doesn't deny the fact that Darko's impression of himself is greater than the reality. And it definately doesn't explain why his confidence is shaken. Surely he realizes his thumb is hurt!

Maybe I was a little tough but honestly I think Perkins is playing better than Darko right now. Perkins deserves the nod.

I will try and be kinder in the future.

zack said...


are we overlooking the fact that Darko shot and made a RIGHT handed hook shot last night....

A RIGHT handed hook shot for goodness sake....that fact only should put him near the top of the Most Improved List...


i'm just kidding around...i love darko (please leave my female family members alone)....anyone that plays that kind of defense against Duncan is alright with me....

Anonymous said...

Darko Humble? Yeah, right. Darko is so full of himself.

See for yourself:

the serbian swatter said...

Hi "anonymous,"

Just a tip, but I’ve found that cited references are much more potent when they actually support an argument. While those two clips show an extremely pissed off Darko Milicic, they fail to demonstrate his alleged immodesty. There is no disputing the fact that Darko has a raging temper, but how does that equate to being cocky? He has never once been quoted or overheard to be self-glorifying, or to have an “impression of himself greater than the reality.” To the contrary, every time this kid is interviewed all he says is how much he has to prove and how much work still remains.

As far as displays of anger in response to real or perceived officiating iniquities are concerned, are all players or managers/coaches who have been ejected or expressed public outrage also guilty of being full of themselves?

Can you see the illogic of such a statement?

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