Thursday, January 31, 2008

Memphis vs Utah - 2.1.08


No not those flags!

It's the Grizzlies Rally Flag Night!!! Don't miss out on your 2007-08 edition.

Memphis plays their fourth consecutive home game and their 8th in their last 10 games Saturday night. So far the home stand can only be described as a mixed bad. Wins over Seattle, Chicago and the LA Clippers, blowout losses to Dallas and Orlando and two close but no cigars losses to Cleveland in OT and Denver after having a 7 pt lead with 3 minutes to play. Saturday nights game gives Memphis chance at a 4-4 record in the last 8 home games but Memphis hasn't beaten a team with a winning record since beating San Antonio on Dec. 19th. With Pau Gasol bothered by back spasms it will be a hard road to climb to change that streak. Darko Milicic had a big game against Denver but will need to repeat that performance again, something Darko has struggled doing this season. Rudy Gay continues to perform at the highest level any perimeter player in Memphis has showing range on his shots, quick hands on defense (1.5 steals per game) and the ability to hit the clutch shots.

Utah is visiting Washington to play the Wizards on Friday night so fatigue may play a part in this game. Utah has stormed past Portland and Denver into 1st place in the Northwest division on the back of a 6 game consecutive game win streak and a 10 game home winning streak. The only two losses in January were to divisional rivals Denver and Portland once each. Utah's frontline of Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur offer size, scoring and defense which will make things difficult for the interior players on the Grizzlies, especially if Stro or Pau don't play. Deron Williams probably won't be named an all-star this year but is playing like one averaging 19.1 ppg on 51.5% FG shooting, 9.5 assists and 1.15 spg. It's tough to make the All-Star game in the West when those numbers only put you in the mix. Utah can't afford to overlook the Grizzlies since despite their excellent record of late the Jazz are still only 1.5 games out of 9th place in the Western Conference and out of the playoffs completely.

Point Guards: Kyle Lowry vs Deron Williams
Kyle has been playing some long minutes lately and would probably be pleased to see Mike Conley back in the lineup for this game. Deron Williams is a pounding PG who, at 6-3 and 205 pounds, uses his size to his advantage to muscle his way inside or to post up opponents. Assuming Lowry is starting expect the two muscular players to really go after each other. The main problem is that Williams can shoot from the field (51.5%) and the arc (39.4%) while Kyle has struggled shooting this season. Also with Utah's pick and roll offense expect to see Lowry taking some mean picks for the team. Still Lowry is a bulldog and can surprise teams with his toughness and tenacity. This should be a great battle.
Advantage: Utah

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Ronnie Brewer

Former Arkansas Razorback Ronnie Brewer has blossomed this season in Utah. After averaging only 12.1 mpg last season Brewer has stepped it up to 28.5 mpg this season on the back of 54.1% FG shooting and a nice all-around game. Brewer is not a 3 pt threat, hitting only 17.9% of his attempts, but his size (6-7) enables him to post up most opposing SGs and to punish teams attempting to put PG's on him instead of Williams. Mike Miller will have to work hard to get his shot off against Brewer but can match him in size and power. Miller's rebounding has suffered in the small ball lineup but at SG he is one of the best in the league. Hitting 50.8% from teh field and 43.4% from the arc makes Mike a dangerous scorer in the half court and if players rush out to guard him on the perimeter Miller has shown the ability to get to the rim with ease as well.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Andrei Kirilenko

Rudy Gay is the Grizzlies lead scorer and go to player late in the games despite only being 21 yrs old. His shooting has been respectable at 47% from the floor and nearly 40% from the arc. He has amazing athletic ability and if there is a weakness it his his ball-handling skills. Andrei Kirilenko is one of the best defensive players in the league. AK-47 averages 1.8 bpg and 1.3 spg while shooting 50.3% fro mteh field and 37% from the arc. The lanky 6-9 Russian is a tough guard on both sides of the court. This summer's trade demands seem to have calmed down during the season but with his desire to play PF more than SF it may not be over if the Jazz start to stumble. This battle should be worth the price of admission by itself.
Advantage: Utah

Power Forwards: Pau Gasol vs Carlos Boozer

The man who Memphis didn't get vs the man Memphis can't wait to see leave. Carlos Boozer was on everyone's lips but Jerry West at the 2002 draft. Robert Archibald was the Grizzlies 2nd rd pick and three picks later Cleveland gladly picked him up. He has become an All-Star in Utah averaging 22.4 ppg and 10.6 rpg this season. That may not be enough to get Boozer into the all-star game this season. It should be enough to outperform Gasol however. Before Gasol's back started bothering him he was playing his best this season in January. Gasol averaged 21.8 ppg and 10.5 rpg in the month as well as 3.4 apg and 1.9 bpg. Unfortunately Gasol's back has not allowed him to play at the level he performed in January.
Advantage: Utah

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Mehmet Okur

I don't know how to judge this match. Is the Darko who put 14 and 16 against Marcus Camby or is the 2 point, 5 board Darko against Dallas playing? Is Mehmet the 19 pt 9 baord NBA All-Star playing from past years or the 12 pt 6 rebound player of this year? In January Mehmet played some of his best ball all season averaging 14.5 ppg and 6.9 rpg. he also tossed in 42% of his three point shots.
Advantage: Utah

Benches: Memphis vs Utah

Let's see, Utah has a bench and Memphis doesn't. Against Denver Memphis had Casey Jacobsen, Hakim Warrick and Andre Brown off the bench. Utah has Kyle Korver (who some Grizz fan has proclaimed is as good as Mike Miller), Paul Millsap and Matt Harpring. Even if Stro is back and Conley returns from injury it is a mismatch.
Advantage: Utah

Join Assistant Coach Ron DuBois in Lexus Lounge promptly at 6pm on February 2nd prior to the Grizzlies vs. Jazz game for insight about the game against the Jazz. Assistant coach Ron DuBois will show a short video covering 3-4 topics on the Jazz and how the Grizzlies will address that team’s obstacles.

Passed out to all in attendance will be a “Game Profile Sheet” which includes a statistical analysis of the opposing team. If time permits, there will be a brief session of Q&A from guests in Lexus Lounge.

A valid ticket with access to Lexus Lounge is all that is needed to attend. While an RSVP is not necessary, space in Lexus Lounge is limited. Reservations for Lexus Lounge can be made by calling 901-205-1830.

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