Monday, February 18, 2008

Memphis at Seattle - 2.19.08

Memphis needed a break during the all-star weekend just to get their feet underneath them again. So far the only additional player moves have existed in the minds of the many NBA correspondents around the country. There have been rumors that Mike Miller, and one of the three young PG's (likely Kyle Lowry) will be moved by the deadline but nothing has happened yet. Hakim Warrick has been playing very well on offense since his promotion and has been covered well on defense as the Grizzlies have resorted to zone defenses more than ever. Rudy Gay is back to being the man in Memphis and should be focused on that alone (instead of the next dramatic dunk idea off of YouTube). Mike Conley and Juan Carlos Navarro didn't play poorly over the weekend as well making sure Memphis' future was well represented. The player to watch will be Darko Milicic who hopefully used the days off to improve his conditioning, post moves and heal up a little more. Adding to Memphis' insecurity was the rumor that the NBA has sent a team down to evaluate what is happening with the team. That can't be good news if it is true.

Seattle was well represented over the weekend as well with Kevin Durant leading the rookie team in scoring with 23 pts and Jeff Green adding in 9 pts and 5 boards. The problem for Seattle has been the lack of reliable production anyone other than Durant and Durant has been erratic at best. Another thing disappearing in Seattle is hope as Commissioner Stern said that it is almost definate that Seattle will be moving to Oklahoma City sometime soon although he hasn't ruled out another season in Seattle. The Sonics have been scoring better in February after a bad month in January and seem to be finding some form of constant rotation. Seattle is 0-3 this season against Memphis and professional pride requires an all out effort to prevent being swept by the Grizzlies. Seattle is another team building for the future and not for the present.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Earl Watson
It is scary how similiar Conley and Watson's statistics are. Both players average around 8.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1 steal and 27 mpg. Neither player is very effective shooting the ball but Watson is slightly more effective from beyond the arc although not to the point of being a threat. Watson is a tough defender as well who knows how to use his body to compensate for a lack of speed. Conley has tremendous speed however and Watson will be forced to use all of his skill to stay in front of Conley. It should be an interesting matchup.
Advantage: Seattle

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Kevin Durant

If I have to give Watson the advantage because of experience at the point then how can I give Durant the advantage at the 2? Well Miller is not a great defender and Durant can shoot. Still Mike may have an additional motivation Durant doesn't have. Miller has been having his name used in rumors with nearly every team in the league and if he wants to be traded he needs to make it impossible for teams to say no. Now is not the time for him to be quiet and defering to other players. It is sad to say but it is quite possible that people will be seeing the Miller they always wanted between now and the trade deadline simply because he wants to get traded.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forward: Rudy Gay vs Jeff Green

Rudy Gay was 2nd on the sophomore team in scoring and may have gotten serious consideration for player of the game if not for Boobie shooting 11-20 from three pt land. Green didn't play bad but it was clear that Rudy is the more talented of the two. 11 days younger than Rudy, Green has always played 2nd fiddle to the more highly recruited UConn star. Green shows a lot of potential to be a solid NBA player but Rudy is almost a star already.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs Chris Wilcox

As a starter Hakim Warrick is averaging 17 pts and 9 boards a game. Comparing that to Chris Wilcox who averages 13 and 7 would seem to be a clear advantage for Memphis but Wilcox usually has big games against the Grizzlies. He is intimidating, strong and powerful inside at it will require Hak to play tough on defense to keep him away from the basket. Wilcox doesn't have great range but he does know how to dunk the ball. That has been a weakness of Hakim in the past. As a starter now Hakim will have to play both sides of the court. Hak is fast however and his range will give Wilcox fits.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Kurt Thomas

In February Darko started to look like the man everyone was excited about in October before his thumb was injured. Averaging 9.2 ppg and 8.3 rpg in the month, Darko is starting to put together some nice games but he still has a limited repetroire of moves and commits too many bad fouls. Kurt Thomas gives up a lot of height to Darko but he is experienced and knows how to overcome his lack of size to be productive. In a game with so many inexperienced players this is another example of wisdom and old age defeating youth and talent. A good learning experience for Darko however.
Advantage: Seattle

Benches: Memphis vs Seattle

This is the one big difference in this game from the previous matchups. Seattle's bench used to be equal to Memphis but with the trade Memphis' bench has been severely weakened. Juan Carlos Navarro struggles against Seattle with their big guards of Wally Szczerbiak and Damien Wilkins. Jason Collins and Kwame Brown don't match up well against Nick Collison. Luke Ridnour and Delonte West are more experienced than Kyle Lowry and Javaris Crittenton. Basically if Memphis has to use their bench too much it won't be good for the Grizzlies.
Advantage: Seattle

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