Monday, March 24, 2008

Memphis vs Denver - 3.24.08

Memphis is winning at an unprecedented clip right now. 3 wins in 4 games does have to be taken with a grain of salt however as the wins have been against Sacramento (without Ron Artest, Brad Miller or Beano Udrih), New York (without Zack Randolph, Eddie Curry or Stephon Marbury) and Charlotte (who wasn't missing anyone but we are talking about the Bobcats after all). The city has a lot to be proud of basketball-wise lately with the Tigers reaching the Sweet 16 as well making it 4 successive basketball wins for Memphis over the last three days. To find a time the Grizzlies won three straight games you have to look back to the last three games of 2007 and one of the teams Memphis beat was tonight's opponent.

Denver isn't panicking yet but they are distinctly aware of the clock ticking. Denver, despite having two of the most prolific scorers in the game is still 1.5 games outside of the playoffs with only 12 games remaining. George Karl may be feeling some heat about the teams lack of a playoff spot so you can expect the Nuggets to come out fighting despite playing Toronto yesterday. This is a breather game however for Denver as their next four opponents are Dallas, Golden St and then a back to back series with Phoenix. The Nuggets can't afford to look ahead but it is human nature not to realize what is on the horizon.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Anthony Carter
Anthony Carter was supposed to be a stop gap measure while Chucky Atkins got better. He is now firmly entrenched in the starters role and Chucky is back to coming off the bench, something Memphis fans know he is quite good at doing. Conley has righted himself after hitting the rookie wall and has been playing very well lately. His assists could be much higher if people had been hitting the open shots he has given them. Against Sacramento Conley used his speed to repeatedly get to the rim. He has the same speed advantage against Carter.
Advantage: Memphis

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Allen Iverson
Mike Miller has a distinct size advantage over the diminutive Iverson so he should have no trouble getting his shot off and Miller has been red-hot lately with his shot. Likewise AI has a distinct speed advantage over Mike Miller and should have no trouble getting his shot off against Mike. The main difference is that AI likes to shoot a lot more than Mike and that means a lot more points for Denver.
Advantage: Denver

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Carmello Anthony
Rudy Gay has regained his offensive stroke after struggling mightily while Miller was out. Over the last 5 games Rudy has averaged 20.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg and hit 90% from the free throw line. That is good since he is only hitting 20% from the arc, far off his season average. If teams start backing off of Rudy's outside shot that could be a problem since Rudy is one of two players in the league that are among the leaders in 3 pt shots and dunks (Kobe Bryant being the other). Carmello is still one of the toughest stops in the game. His combination of size, touch and range are nearly unstoppable when he wants to score.
Advantage: Denver

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs Kenyon Martin
K-Mart was signed to be the enforcer that Denver needed. So far he hasn't been that but this season he has at least been healthy. The former Cincy Bearcat and #1 pick in the draft is the #3 scorer on the Nuggets at 12.1 ppg but the team expected more
from him when they signed him to that huge contract. Hakim has been a pleasant surprise since taking over the PF role from Gasol. As a starter he has averaged 16.2 ppg and 8.2 rpg nearly replacing the performance of Gasol and when the team plays the zone his defensive problems aren't so pronounced.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Marcus Camby
Marcus Camby will hobnob with Memphis's coach before the game and will give him a wave or two during the game as well. I'm not talking about Iavaroni of course but John Calipari who coached Camby at UMass. Camby has been the best player from a Calipari program in the far. Camby's defense covers up for a lot of Denver's gambling ways and poor play. He only scores on put backs and dunks but he is still able to score that way since he is such a great rebounder (13.2 rpg). Darko has been playing better of late (19 pts and 10 rebounds against Sacramento) and has risen his level of play against the bigger centers but Camby isn't a big center as much as a quick and active one and that type of player has given Darko fits.
Advantage: Denver

Benches: Memphis vs Denver
Denver's bench looked to become much more effective with the return of Chucky Atkins. The former Grizz point guard has averaged almost 9 ppg on 55.6% shooting from the field and 55% even from the arc over the last 5 games but has actually seen his minutes reduced. He has failed to score in the last two games entirely and was received a DNP-SD on Friday night. Aparently he has lost the battle for the #3 guard role to JR Smith. Smith has been playing well this season after the tragic car accident last summer. Linas Klieza has been battling a foot injury but it doesn't seem to have hurt his game too much. Memphis' bench is fast and small with Lowry, Navarro and Crittenton providing some punch the starters have not had to run such long minutes which has enabled them to have more punch at the end of games. The frontline has been a bit thin with only Jason Collins really providing any sort of help but his lumbering defense has been a nice surprise.
Advantage: Denver

Enemy Blogs/Relevant Commentary:
The Nugg Doctor
Pick Axe and Roll
Nuggets Hoops
NBA BLog Squad - Marcus Camby has a blog up today.

BallHype: hype it up!

1 comment:

Ben Q. Rock said...

Y'all lost, but at least Rudy Gay got this dunk in there. Nice pass from Navarro.