Thursday, March 27, 2008

Grizzlies at Lakers - 3.28.07

Memphis lost at Sacramento to start the road trip. The Overtime loss was encouraging however as the team held tight despite sub-par performances from Mike Miller and Rudy Gay. Unfortunately it seems with every ray of sunshine there comes two more clouds as MitchLawrence reported in the New York Daily News that Marc Iavaroni is set to be replaced as the Grizzlies head coach by none other than Larry Brown, most recently the former coach of the New York Knicks. While no one was attributed to these comments Lawrence did say that it came from several NBA sources. That should be very bad news for Darko Milicic who was buried on the bench in Detroit while Larry Brown was coach. Memphis could do themselves a favor by beating LA since they own LA's pick this year but then again continuing to lose should improve their chances in the lottery.

Los Angeles has somehow managed to remain in the midst of the Western Confernce title race despite losing former Grizz star Pau Gasol to injury since March 14th. Adding insult to injury Coach Phil Jackson admitted in the press yesterday that Andrew Bynum will probably not return from his injury until the playoffs. On top of that Kobe Bryant has an injured pinky finger that will require surgery at some point. Still the Lakers continue to win and with the easiest schedule remaining should win the regular season crown in the Western Conference. The Lakers play 8 of their last 10 games at the Staples Center and the road games are all in California against non-playoff teams.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Derek Fisher
When Derek Fisher came to Memphis he schooled Mike Conley about as bad as a man can be schooled hitting his first 10 shots and finishing with 26 pts. In the rematch Conley has some redemption as Fisher only scored 9 points with 3 assists while Conley had 10 pts and 7 assists. Fisher, a 12 yr NBA veteran, still has some tricks up his sleeve but Conley is a quick student. Conley's shot has caused the greatest concerns. He is still only shooting 41% from the field and below 30% from the arc. This allows smart PG's to lay off Conley, cutting off easy access to the lane while being available to double team others. Fisher is a very smart point guard.
Advantage: Los Angeles

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Kobe Bryant

Mike Miller had a very poor game by his standards against Kevin Martin and now he has to face the elbows of Kobe Bryant again. This matchup got very heated last season when Mike accidently scratched Kobe's face to which Kobe responded by 'accidently' elbowing Mike in the throat. There probably won't be as mucj excitement this time unless you get excited by Kobe scoring a lot of points.
Advantage: Los Angeles

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Lamar Odom

Rudy has been hot and cold lately, as you would expect most 21 yr old players to be when thrust into the lead scoring role on a bad team. Perhaps the weight of carrying the team this season is getting to Rudy's legs as his long range shooting percentage has dropped significantly in the last 10 games (19.6%). He has started to hit some lately however so maybe that had more to do with a sore hamstring than anything more sinister. Lamar Odom has been hot and cold his entire career. The good news is that he was hot in his last game so he is due to be cold again.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs Vladimir Radmanovic

Tough match up for both players. Radmanovic prefers to play along the perimeter and use his height to shoot over smaller players. Hakim prefers to play outside the paint but inside the arc and get his shot from outlasting the defender via numerous ball fakes. When Hak is on his game he can sink any shot he attempts. When he isn't you better not throw him the ball because you most likely won't get it back. Vlad has been hot from outside the arc but his lack of movement to create shots allows him to be shut down pretty easily if the defender stays with him.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Ronnie Turiaf

Ronnie Turiaf is a tough forward thrust into the middle with the loss of Gasol, Mihm and Bynum. He is undersized so Darko can shoot over him but he won't give an inch to Darko so Milicic needs to patient looking for his shot. As a starter Turiaf has avereaged double figures but his rebounding is worse than Darko's. Darko has the advantage in this match but you have to wonder what the psycholical effect of the Larry Brown rumors will be on Darko.
Advantage: Los Angeles

Benches: Memphis vs Los Angeles

LA's bench has been shortened the last few weeks. Not from a lack of confidence from their coach but from injuries to the starters. Former bench players Radmanovic and Turiaf leave Jackson with only DJ MBenga coming off the bench as an interior player. The backcourt players are among the best in the league however. Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic have had break out seasons. Fan favorite Luke Walton can be counted on to make smart decisions with the ball and to work hard every night. Memphis' bench has begun to be very effective. Kyle Lowry, former Laker Javaris Crittenton and Juan Carlos Navarro each have picked up scoring slacks at different times and the three players have made th Grizzlies running offense really move. Jason Collins has been the only regular contributor on the frontline as Rudy, Miller and Warrick usually rotate around to fill the backup PF role. Kwame Brown may see some action in this game since he knows the Lakers players so well.
Advantage: Lakers

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Forum Blue and Gold
LA Ball Talk Basketblog

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