Saturday, March 22, 2008

Memphis vs Sacramento - 3.22.08

Memphis got another monkey off it's back Friday night in NYC when Mike Miller, Rudy Gay and Juan Carlos Navarro combined for 75 points and the Grizzlies rolled to a 120-106 victory. Memphis now faces their 4th consecutive lottery bound team having won 2of the previous three games. The only drawback to the win was that it dropped the Grizzlies back into a tie with Minnesota for the 3rd worst record in the league and puts Memphis only 2 games ahead of the Knicks for 5th place.

Sacramento comes to town with revenge on their minds and a .500 record within thier reach. Memphis's defeat of the Kings on February 12th preceeded the Kings trading Mike Bibby to Atlanta and started what is likely to become a house cleaning of their own this summer. Reggie Theus, the Kings rookie head coach, has done an incredible job holding the team together despite numerous injuries and roster moves. To put things in perspective the Kings would be a playoff team in the East instead of 10 games out of the playoffs like they are right now. Sacramento is playing back to back road games after losing in San Antonio last night which may give them dead legs in this game.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson had solidified the starting PG role in Atlanta until just before the trade deadline. Suddenly he is Sacramento haveing to adjust to a new team and new coaching philosophy. The trade hasn't helped his game yet. His numbers are down across the board and they weren't that impressive to begin with. Beano Udrih's injury has forced AJ back into a starting role and he is playing better from that position. Mike Conley has struggled as well of late which is to be expected from a rookie PG. Teams have adjusted to his game and he has to adjust to those adjustments, probably for the first time in his career. One thing is clear, Mike is understanding he needs to take more outside shots and he has been hitting them of late as well.
Advantage: Memphis

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Kevin Martin

Mike Miller has been playing like a man on fire lately. Apparently Miller is over the mourning period of his good friend Pau Gasol being traded (and Miller not being as well). Against the Knicks Miller scored 24 pts in the 1st half on his way to a season high 34 points. Kevin Martin has been struggling with his outside shot and like most great scorers he has started taking the ball to the hoop to compensate. His 17 FT attempts against the Spurs. What is scary is that those 17 attempts were only his 5th highest attempts in a game this season for Martin. Earlier this month Martin had 24 attempts against Minnesota.
Advantage: Sacramento

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Ron Artest

A classic confrontation of defense vs offense. Ron Artest is one of the best defensive small forwards in the league, and he doesn't have to kick people in the fact either. After a disappointing December, Artest has steadily been improving his offensive play as well averaging over 23 ppg in March. Rudy Gay has struggled with two things lately. First, he has been thrust into the lead scorers role without much in the way of support. Second, he has been trying to overcome a tender hamstring which has limited his explosiveness. With Miller return and the hammy healing Rudy is again showing flashes of the star potential people have suggested he has.
Advantage: Sacramento

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs Mikki Moore

Mikki Moore is old, untalented but hard working. Hakim is young, talented and hard working. Unfortunately Hakim is also a lot smaller than Mikki Moore and if Moore decides to use his strength and size down low Warrick will struggle to stop him from doing whatever he wants. Hak's advantage is speed and range, being able to hit shots from up to 20 ft with consistency. Moore isn't an accomplished offensive player and struggles when put in that role.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Brad Miller
Darko once again saw his minutes severely restricted in NYC with the Knicks going small and Darko's left writst still hurting. Darko's up and down minutes have made it somewhat difficult for him to be consistent as have the injuries but Darko has been consistently above average against the better centers in the league. Brad Miller is certainly considered that. Miller's numbers are only slightly off his all star years in Chicago and Sacramento. Miller stretches defensse with his outside shot and sets terrifying picks on small guards. Darko will need to play smart, let people know of picks being set and most importantly, put a body on Miller to keep him off the boards. A tall order for anyone.
Advantage: Sacramento

Benches: Memphis vs Sacramento

Sacramento is going to want to rely on their bench a lot in this game. However, with Beano Udrih questionable, that may not be possible. John Salmons was playing well earlier in the season but his play has dropped off considerably. Quincy Douby, Francisco Garcia and Stephen Hawes are young but have a lot of potential. Memphis' bench is backcourt heavy with Navarro, Lowry and Crittenton providing the fire power and Collins giving his best defensively.
Advantage: Sacramento

Relevant Blogs:
Sactown Royalty - The end-all, be-all of Kings' commentary and analysis.

BallHype: hype it up!

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