Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Memphis at Minnesota - 3.19.08

Memphis is on the road again. Not that the road has been that friendly this season to the Grizz. This game will put a true face on who is tanking games and who is trying to win them. Memphis is currently half a game behind Seattle and tied with Minnesota for the 2nd worst record in the NBA. And people think it is tight at the top of the Western Conference!

Minnesota is actually winning games of late. 4-6 in their last 10 games, the TPups are seemingly starting to grow up but more likely are just getting healthy. The last two years have seen Randy Foye and Rashad McCants battle numerous injuries. Now healthy they are taking advantage of the attention that Al Jefferson draws down low to punish teams from the perimeter.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Randy Foye
This is an interesting match up. Randy Foye is more of a scoring guard than a true point guard like Conley but he is very good scoring the ball against weaker defenders and when he is hot he is close to unstoppable. His 41.6 FG% should tell you that he isn't hot nearly as often as he believes himself to be. Foye tied his career high of 28 points on March 8th however so he is playing well right now. Conley is a set up man who looks to others first. That isn't bad on a team that looks for their own shots first as well. Mike is not as good shooting the ball especially from long range.
Advantage: Minnesota

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Marco Jaric

Mike Miller is still in Memphis but it is anyone's guess if he is happy about this or not. He's having the 2nd best year of his career but without Pau Gasol around the shots have been more difficult of late. His scoring and shooting percentages are both at low marks for the season right now. Jaric is a transplanted PG who can punish teams if they leave him alone but isn't looking to shoot first. His size should help him against Miller but his defense isn't good enough if Mike is feeling like playing hard.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Kirk Snyder

Kirk Snyder was a back up shooting guard in Houston and is now the starting small forward in Minnesota. He should feel good about getting into the lineup but seeing his old team run off 22 straight wins can't feel good. Snyder is undersized to play Rudy and will struggle to get his shot off as well. Rudy is struggling right now but should look at this game as a chance to shine a little.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs Ryan Gomes

Both of these PF's are undersized at their position but only Hakim plays like he realizes this. Gomes (a 2nd rd pick of Chris Wallace's) has been working hard to justify his starting role but teams are learning how to play against him. Gomes has struggled to get his shot off inside and doesn't appear to have the range to hit from the outside. This makes it difficult for him to score and his rebounding is sub-par. Hakim has flourished in his starting role and is averaging nearly 17 ppg and over 8 rpg as a starter. The problem with Hakim is the team's defense suffers when he is in the game. He will have to focus on his job.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Al Jefferson

Al Jefferson was a relative unknown a little over a year ago. He is unknown no longer. The second Wallace draft pick traded from the Celtics to the TWolves for Kevin Garnett to start, Jefferson is making Kevin McHale look a lot smarter than some people gave him credit for when he traded KG. Jefferson is averaging over 21 ppg and 11 rpg while being the only threat on the TWolves roster. Jefferson does a lot of damage on the offensive glass as well (2nd in the NBA in offensive rebounds). Darko has been up and down according to the opponent. Darko has done far better against the higher rated big men. It will take a big effort on Darko's part to contain Jefferson. The good news is that Darko seems to also have big games when playing against fellow Serbs and Jaric is from Serbia.
Advantage: Minnesota

Benches: Memphis vs Minnesota

Two teams building for the future through the draft and with young players. Memphis has 5 players 22 or younger who contribute on the team. Minnesota has Corey Brewer and Sebastian Telfair as the only players that young on their team. So why does Minnesota seem to be the younger team? Maybe because the Twolves have 7 players with less than 4 years experience in the league. Of course Memphis has 8 players that fit that bill. The TWolves bench is led by Rashad McCants and his 14.3 ppg. He is deadly from the perimeter. Craig Smith has improved on his rookie campaign but is looking closer to the top of his potential. Corey Brewer is struggling as most rookies do but plays excellent defense and has put up some big games (18 rebounds in a game for example). Whatever happened to Antoine Walker however? Memphis' bench is led by rookie Juan Carlos Navarro and 2nd yr (barely) Kyle Lowry. The front court is a mess off the bench with Collins, Brown and Cardinal looking to help out as much as possible but rarely doing much in that regard. Still two guards are better than one.
Advantage: Memphis

Relevant Blogs/Website Links
T'Wolves Blog
Timberwolves Today
Wolves Watch

BallHype: hype it up!

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