Friday, February 22, 2008

Memphis vs Dallas 2.22.08

Memphis has been in the doldrums of late. It seemed the players were more concerned (some would say anxious) to hear their name mentioned in a trade more than focusing on their play on the court. That emotional baggage is over for now. That alone should be a big relief for the team. Not that Memphis wasn't involved in a draft day trade of course. New to the Grizzlies fold is Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza also known as 'Marquinhos' de Souza. Marcus is a 23 yr old player from Brazil who's career highlights so far have been shorter than his name. It is unknown whether Vinicius will be available for this game. Mike Miller is still around but his troublesome back may not allow him to play. Hakim Warrick has been playing lately and playing well with 4 consecutive 20 pt games to his credit. In his last 5 games Warrick has averaged 20.2 ppg and 7.6 rpg. Rudy Gay, the new face of the franchise, is averaging 20 ppg this season and if he can continue at that pace will be just the 3rd player in franchise history to average 20 ppg for a full season.

Dallas is still adjusting to their late season trade that brought back home former Mav Jason Kidd but cost the Mavs DeSagna Diop and Devin Harris (plus Keith Van Horn being lured out of retirement) to get the deal done. It did not cost the Mavs Jerry Stackhouse however and Kidd did bring Antoine Wright, a promising young guard from Texas A&M with him. Adding Kidd to a lineup with Dirk Nowtizki, Josh Howard and Jason Terry is another example of the rich getting richer in the west. So far the returns have been questionable however. In the first game with Kidd in the lineup Dallas was waxed by division and conference leading New Orleans 93-104 dropping the Mavs 3 games behind the Hornets in the standings. Not exactly the start Billionaire owner Mark Cuban envisioned.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd brings a resume to the table that few point guads in history can match. 9226 career assists (9.2 a game), 1979 career steals (2.0 a game) and 6726 career rebounds (6.7 a game). While never noted as a great shooter Kidd still has averaged 14.3 ppg over his 14 yr career. Mike Conley was 5 yrs old when Jason Kidd was drafted out of Cal. Conley has been a heady point guard as a rookie using his speed and experience growing up with Greg Oden to fearlessly challenge big men in the lane while showing a good eye passing the ball (5.0 apg as a starter). He doesn't have the size to deter Kidd from shooting but Kidd isn't a great outside shooter and if Conley can use his speed to stay in front of Kidd then the Grizz will gladly let Kidd shoot from outside instead of their other gunners.
Advantage: Dallas

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Devon George

Devon George originally held up Jason Kidd's arrival in Dallas. Now he is starting next to him. What a strange world we live in. George has started the last three games for Dallas and shot a world beating 6-24 over that time span. And this guy held up the Kidd trade? Mike Miller has been troubled by back spasms but hopefully the knowledge that he doesn't have to leave his wife and kids for the rest of the school year will ease the tension and he wil lbe able to go tonight. When Miller is on his game he makes it easier for everyone to score by forcing defenses to guard him at halfcourt it seems. The minutes he has logged this season combined with his throwing his body into every play has created health issues. Miller would be more effective playing 30 minutes a game ala Manu Ginobilli but that hasn't been feasible this season.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Josh Howard

There isn't a better matchup in the game than Rudy Gay vs Josh Howard. Both players have taken major steps forward in their games this season with Howard second on his team in scoring at 20.1 ppg while Rudy leads Memphis at 20.0 ppg. Howard grabs 7.3 rpg while Rudy grabs 6.1 rpg. Howard shoots 46.8% from the field and 35% from the arc while Rudy shoots 46.5% from the field and 39% from the arc. Neither player is a great passer (.21 apg for Howard and 1.8 apg for Gay) but both are good defenders with Rudy holding the edge in hustle plays with 1.5 spg and 0.8 bpg compared to Howard's 0.7 and 0.4 respectively. Both players are young but Rudy is very young at only 21 yrs. Howard graduated from Wake Forest and will be 28 this season. In their matchups this season Howard has had the edge but it is very close.
Advantage: Dallas

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs Dirk Nowitzki

This used to be the premier matchup when Dallas played Memphis and it may be again one day soon. Dirk's ability to score on the perimeter used to give Gasol fits defensively and Dallas' ability to hide Nowitzki defensively against the Grizz center while the Mavs big men leaned on Gasol usually gave Dallas the edge. Now Dirk will have to defend Warrick who has range out to 20 ft and an explosive first step and leaping ability that will give Dirk fits. Defensively Warrick is nimble enough to hang with Dirk but for some reason it doesn't translate well in man to man coverage. If Dirk is hot on the perimeter this could get ugly quickly.
Advantage: Dallas

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Erick Dampier

Erick Dampier has had trouble staying out of foul trouble in the past and this wasn't a major concern for Dallas who still had Diop backing him up. Now that Diop is gone Dampier is going to be asked to play more minutes and that could be trouble for Dallas. Dampier averages only 5.6 ppg and 7 rpg compared to Darco's 6.6 ppg and 6 rpg. Neither player is contributing the way the team had hoped when they were signed. The main difference has been that Dampier shoots 63% fro the field compared to Darko's 42%. At least Dampier realizes if he shoots he better make it. What could be terrifying would be if the game is close down the stretch and Darko or Dampier has to go to the line with the game in question. Dampier shoots a terrible 61% until you compare him to Darko's 50%. That is flat out ugly! Still all Darko has to do is keep Dampier off the boards, especially on the offensive end and if he focuses on that job he can succeed in doing that.
Advantage: Memphis

Benches: Memphis vs Dallas

Ever wondered what approximately %52 million can buy? How about Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, Eddie Jones, Juwan Howard and Brandon Bass for starters. Dallas' payroll is nearly double the Grizzlies and it shows when you go to the bench. Dallas' bench has maybe three players who could start on the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are supposed to be going with a youth movement with Kyle Lowry, Juan Carlos Navarro (who is a rookie despite being 27) but no other contributors off the bench are that young. Jason Collins is big and mean but not very productive, Brian Cardinal is old physically after numerous surgeries on his knee and shoulder and only Javaris Crittenton is truly young and he rarely contributes right now.
Advantage: Dallas

Other Opinions and Commentary:
Can Kidd Save Dallas from Wages of Wins
Mavs MoneyBall has a great video of Jason Kidd blocking current head coach Avery Johnson about half way down their page

BallHype: hype it up!

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