Sunday, March 16, 2008

Memphis vs. Charlotte - 3.17.08

Join the Grizzlies for Downtown Night.

Memphis is coming off a close loss to Golden State that showed evidence of the team "getting it" as they reach the home stretch of the regular season. They had active hands on defense, found open players on offense and played with intensity and determination, even when down by double digits late in the game. If they can build upon that throughout the remainder of the season, it would give fans that much more hope for better results next year.

Charlotte gave a valiant effort against the Cleveland LeBrons, but came up a little bit short in the end. That dropped the Bobcats to 3.5 games out of the 8th position in the Eastern Conference. After winning 5 in a row, they have now lost 3 straight and will need to get back on track if they plan on living up to preseason expectations.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs. Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton has improved each season he's been in the league, as his scoring and assists have gone up, while his turnovers have gone down. Mike Conley didn't play exceptionally well against Golden State and saw most of his minutes go to Kyle Lowry as a result. He'll need to be on his toes if he plans on keeping up with Felton, who has been great since the team cut Jeff McInnis with the exception of a sub-par effort against the streaking Rockets.
Advantage: Charlotte

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs. Matt Carroll
Matt Carroll has seen his minutes decrease with the return of Gerald Wallace to the lineup, and his performance has suffered as a result. He has played well against the Grizzlies historically, but that doesn't mean he'll break out of his mini-slump for this one. Miller also has a good history in this series, averaging 20 ppg against Charlotte. When Wallace comes in, expect to see Miller matched up with Jason Richardson fairly often.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs. Jason Richardson
Jason Richardson has been lighting it up since Charlotte brought him in over last summer. The most noticeable improvement has been in his perimeter game, as he is hitting over 40% of his 3-pointers this season. However, he's also prone to disappearing on occasion, posting more than a few sub-15 point games. Rudy Gay is still struggling with a sore left hamstring, which has hindered his production over the last few games. He'll need to be at 100% to battle Richardson and Wallace all night.
Advantage: Charlotte

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs. Emeka Okafor
Okafor turned down a big money extension last summer and hasn't shown much improvement over last season as most of his numbers mirror last year's while his blocks are down almost a block a game. This is one of those matchups that make you cringe as a Grizzlies fan. Okafor is bigger, stronger and tougher than Hakim. Hak has a decided advantage in terms of offensive skillset, but Okafor will probably dominate him in all other areas while limiting Warrick's offensive output.
Advantage: Charlotte

Centers: Darko Milicic vs. Nazr Mohammed
Nazr has seen a decided uptick in his production since coming to Charlotte from Detroit in an early season trade. He was mostly ineffective off the bench in the earlier meeting between these two teams, but perhaps life as a starter will produce different results. It is unknown if Darko will play after missing the Warriors' game with a sore foot. With the frontline of Okafor/Mohammed/Harrington, the Grizzlies will need another big body to throw at them.
Advantage: Memphis

Benches: Memphis vs. Charlotte
Juan Carlos Navarro and Kyle Lowry have been big contributors the last few games. They'll need to duplicate the effort they put forth against Golden State if they want to keep pace with Gerald Wallace and Jared Dudley. Expect Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins and Javaris Crittenton to see playing time as well, while the Bobcats will probably give some minutes to Jermareo Davidson and Othella Harrington.
Advantage: Charlotte

Relevant blogs/websites/links:
Interview with the Enemy: BobcatsPlanet
Bobcats Bonfire
Queen City Hoops

BallHype: hype it up!

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