Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Memphis vs Sacramento - 2.12.08

SPECIAL DEAL! The Grizzlies are offering rebates for all ticket holders for the Milwaukee game last Tuesday that was affected by incliment weather. If you have a ticket from that game, used or unused, you can exchange it for seats of equal or lesser value depending on availability tonight. For more information follow this link.

Memphis has yet to come close to winning a game since the Gasol trade. Makes people kind of miss the days when the team was losing close games instead of being blown out. Still the Gasol trade had to be made. Now the team is in Rudy and Mike's hands and Rudy and the Grizzlies owe the Kings something after giving away the game in Sacramento. The team had the game in control before relaxing late and allowing the Kings back. Rudy Gay had a big game with 31 pts and 7 boards but dribbled the ball off his foot to seal the Grizzlies fate. Miller scored 18 and Navarro went for 10 but on 2-13 shooting. Milicic was just starting to assert himself with 7 pts and 6 boards but he has become a bigger player of late. Memphis will need to shoot well to have a chance however. The team's poor field goal shooting has more to do with the recent losses than any hangover from the Gasol trade.

Sacramento is not the same team the Grizzlies played on Jan. 10. Mike Bibby, Kevin Martin and Ron Artest are all back from injury and that brings veteran experience to the young squad. How long those veterans remain is another question all together. Bibby is supposed to be going to Cleveland and Artest to anyone who will take his attitude (which means the pickings are slim for his services). Since their return Sacramento has been playing much better. The team is 5-2 in their last 7 games and have wins over New Orleans and Utah in that stretch. Of course they also have a blowout loss to Seattle as well. Sacramento is going big with Mikki Moore and Brad Miller both starting with Artest, Bibby and Martin and breakout player John Salmons still produces well off the bench.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Mike Bibby
The once and future stars of the Grizzlies meet for the first time in this game. Bibby. the #2 pick for the Grizzlies in 1998, has been very solid since returning from his thumb injury. Conley. the #4 pick in the 2007 draft, has been as good as can be expected returning from his shoulder troubles. The two players couldn't be more different on the court. Bibby is considered a sharpshooter from long range with ice water in his veins in crunch time. Conley is a passer who can penetrate the lane, score with either hand or dish to an open man but has been sporadic with his outside shot. Conley's speed may give Bibby troubles but Bibby's physical style could create difficulties for Conley as well.
Advantage: Sacramento

Shooting Guards: Juan Carlos Navarro vs Kevin Martin

KMart is the Kings' leading scorer this season, averaging over 23 ppg and that is a problem for Navarro who has struggled with defending scorers but he has been improving. Since his return from injury KMart has been a little erratic as well scoring 5, 27 and 9 pts in his last three games. Navarro will need to make Martin respect him on the defensive end to prevent him from focusing all of his attention on the offensive end. Martin doesn't score as well when forced to play defense. Unfortunately Navarro has not been shooting well of late. In his last 5 games Navarro is shooting 26.1% from the floor and 20% from the arc.
Advantage: Sacramento

Small Forwards: Mike Miller vs Ron Artest

Mike Miller and Ron Artest have something in common. Neither player expects to be wearing thier team's uniform next season. In fact both don't expect to be wearing the same uniform after the trade deadline although it is likely both will. Artest is exactly the type of player who can take Miller completely out of his game. He is a physical defender who doesn't give an inch and Mike is the type of player who needs space to operate most efficiently. Artest has been putting up more points than usual this season as well as his recovery from injury has allowed him to be fresher than most of his opponents. Mike has been dragging lately as more weight is thrust on his shoulders to carry the team.
Advantage: Sacaramento

Power Forward: Rudy Gay vs Mikki Moore

Rudy Gay is not supposed to be as efficient at the power forward role as he was at the small forward but it would be difficult to prove on just appeareance. His scoring since Gasol was traded compared to before the trade is unchanged, his rebounding has improved to 8.6 rpg, his assists are up as well. His shooting percentage is down a bit but is still repectable as well. Mikki Moore is a physical monster who enjoyed playing the less physical Gasol in the paint. He may not be as effective with Gay spreading him all over the court. If Sacramento is able to get him the ball down low he may be able to manhandle Gay but that would be taking the ball out of Sacramento's shooters hands which has to be fine with the Grizzlies.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Brad Miller

Brad Miller has range that will force Darko away from the basket, bulk to overpower Rudy if the team tries to put Darko on Moore and the passing ability to keep everyone involved on his team while still getting enough shots himself to average nearly 15 ppg. His 22 pt, 10 rebound and 5 assist game against Memphis earlier this season should attest to how difficult a player he is to contain. Darko has been playing much better of late. He has averaged 11 ppg and 10.6 rpg since the trade including 3 straight double doubles for the first time in his career. Unfortuantely that was the first three games without Gasol. Since that streak he has been held below double figures in rebounds. Really upsetting is that he failed against Dallas without Dampier and New Orleans without Chandler. Brad Miller is the real deal and Milicic has to improve his board play and keep scoring to neutralize Miller's game.
Advantage: Sacramento

Benches: Memphis vs Sacramento

Sacramento's bench has been greatly improved with the return of their big three. Beno Udrih performed well as a starter but his future is as a bench player at best. John Salmmons is scary coming off the bench but his performance isn't as good in that role. With Memphis going small with Gay at the four don't be surprised to see Sacramento match that with Arterst on Gay and Salmons on Miller. Francisco Garcia has hurt his back however so that will thin the Kings bench out somewhat. Memphis's bench has been horrible of late. Lowry hasn't scored in double figures in three games and only has 4 assists in the last two games while shooting 2-9 fomr the field and shooting 18 of 29 from the charity stripe and hitting only 1 three pt shotin the last 5 games while having 11 turnovers. And he is the best player Memphis is bringing off the bench. Javaris Crittenton looks promising if out of control. Hakim Warrick has lost his shooting touch which was all he brought to the game. It's gotten so bad Brian Cardinal has been seeing action and actually performing well in limited minutes. The Collins/Brown combo at center has been disappointing so far.
Advantage: Sacramento

Opposing Views:
Sactown Royalty

BallHype: hype it up!

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