Friday, January 11, 2008

Memphis at Golden St - 1.11.08

Memphis plays their second game of the three game west coast road trip and the second game in a row against the red hot Warriors who demolished the Grizzlies in December. Not a good way to enter a game. The Grizzlies had their first major let down game of the new year against the Lakers on Tuesday. The Grizz played even for three quarters but unfortunately it was the last three quarters. The Lakers jumped to a 16 pt 1st quarter lead and the Grizzlies never seriously challenged after that. The culprits were the usual failure to get back on defense, poor shooting and turnovers. All signs of a young team that hasn't learned how to play together. Memphis lacks experience at key positions and leadership at the positions were experience isn't the problem. It basically comes down to shooting for the Grizzlies. If they shoot well then they don't give up so many fast break points and commit so many turnovers. Great teams overcome poor shooting. Memphis succumbs to it.

Golden St loves to run and puts pressure on people to force turnovers. That doesn't sound to good for Memphis. However the gambling style creates open shots which usually leads to teams shooting well against the Warriors. The real power of the Warriors comes from the consistency of the pressure. Some teams pressure from time to time but the Warriors never stop. It wears down teams over time and then Golden St has them. The speed at every position leads to lots of easy shots and the Warriors acceptance of open shots for their opponents tricks teams into playing too fast for their style and this results in more turnovers. Baron Davis is having an all-star type of season and possibly an MVP one if he can remain healthy. Stephen Jackson's return from a 7 game suspension to start the season has triggered Golden St's run up the standings.

Trends and Relevant Stats
-- The Griz are 0-4 versus Pacific Division teams this year.
-- The Griz are a league worst 1-8 in games decided by 3 points or less.
-- The Griz are 2-6 on the 2nd game of a back-to-back.
-- In the last 5 meetings between the Griz and Warriors, both teams have always scored over 100 points. Expect a shootout tonight.
-- Rudy Gay now has a steal in 20 straight games.
-- Rudy Gay is steadily improving. His January averages have been his best month so far, averaging 22.6 points, 6 boards, 3.2 assists, 2 steals and shooting over 50% from the field.
-- The Warriors lead the league in 3 pointers attempted (27.4) and made (9.6). The Griz are 5th in 3-point attempts (21.4) and 6th in makes (7.8).
-- The Warriors are a surprisingly average 9-7 at home this year.

Zack's Keys (only 2 instead of 3 for this game):
-- Make Shots. Both teams are going to jack up a ton of shots tonight. The Griz need to shoot well, obviously. Both teams shot over 50% from the field in the first meeting this year.
-- Slow Down the Pick-and-Roll. I expect Biedrins and Davis to run alot of pick and rolls this game and as I have wrote until my fingertips become bloody, the Griz are horrible at defending the pick and roll.


Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Baron Davis
Well Conley started off against inexperienced Andre Owens, Rajon Rondo and Chris Quinn. He then progressed to experienced but not overly talented Derek Fisher and Beno Udrih. Now Conley gets a real taste of the NBA. Baron Davis is no Andre Owens after all. Don't let his 48.1 FG% fool you. Baron Davis is among the top 3 point guards in the league. Fisher made Conley look like a 20 yr old kid on Tuesday so I imagine Baron Davis will get the scouting report on how to play him.
Advantage: Golden St

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Monta Ellis

The Missisippi native Monta Ellis is blossoming into a dynamic shooting guard under Don Nelson's offense. The 3rd yr pro is averaging 16.3 ppg this season on 49.3% FG shooting. While not a deep threat at only 21.9% his speed makes the long ball less important. Mike Miller is taller and slower than Ellis which means he should be able to shoot over Ellis but no way he can drive past him. It will be important for Miller to keep shooting in this game as he has had monstrous games at Golden St in the past.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Stephen Jackson

Stephen Jackson is the heart and soul of the wild Warrior attack. It is amazing that only one season after being traded from Indiana where he got into all kinds of trouble both on and off the court that he would be named Captain of an NBA team. I guess it's true that any thing is possible in the NBA. Rudy has never had any trouble with character issues and is starting to come into his own as a player. Rudy has learned to be the main offensive player. He has learned how to shoot himself out of a slump. What he has to learn now is how to include the rest of the team in his success and things will start to really get interesting. Jackson is a great defender however and seems to elevate his game to the competition.
Advantage: Golden St

Power Forwards Pau Gasol vs Matt Barnes

Barnes was benched against Portland Wednesday night but still played more than half the game and should be back in the starting lineup against Memphis. Barnes had his career game against Memphis last year and has had solid efforts defensively against Gasol. Gasol would appear to be a slam dunk to have big games against the small Golden St lineup but instead it seems to give him a lot of trouble. Gasol came out against the way the team has been playing and needs to have some statement games now to back it up. Gasol didn't play in the first Golden St game so it will be interesting to see what happens in the rematch.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Andris Biedrins

Darko has been improving every game this year including a double-double against Andrew Bynum and the Lakers but his propensity to take fouls is killing his development. Darko has to learn that not every shot in the lane is a potential block. At 22 he still gives the impression that he can do it all instead of doing what he needs to do often. Hopefully this will come with time. His thumb is obviously still bothering him but he is adapting and the injury is causing him to develop his right hand. Biedrins is fast, active and works hard. He is not very talented but he uses what he has perfectly in the Golden St system. Basically Darko is still in the learning stage and Biedrins is not.
Advantage: Golden St

Benches: Memphis vs Golden St

Golden St uses everyone on their bench, half the NBDL and occasionally pulls fans from the stands. If you play on a Don Nelson team you will play in a game and be expected to contribute. Case in point is newest NBDL call up CJ Watson who played 30 minutes in his first game with the Warriors and he hadn't even practiced with the team yet! The one exception seems to be former 1st rd pick Patrick O'Bryant. Look for him to be jettisoned before the trade deadline. Kelena Azubuike, Austin Croshere, Al Harrington (and why isn't he starting?) and even rookies Brandon Wright and Marco Belinelli could see time in this game. The Warriors run hard and that requires bodies to succeed. Memphis' bench has been getting shorter and shorter and performing worse and worse. Hopefully Navarro and Lowry can bust out of their rookie wall slumps and have a good game. Look for Hakim Warrick to have a big game.
Advantage: Golden St

Golden State of Mind asked us some questions and we were way too eager to answer them -- we get lonely, you see. So head over there and check them out.

Relevant blogs/sites:
Golden State of Mind
The City
Hoopsworld Preview

1 comment:

zack said...

i really want to predict a grizzlies upset tonight....but then i remembered that i'm crazy...

Warriors 127
Memphis 113

Baron Davis goes for 40
Miller goes for 35 and 9 treys