Friday, April 11, 2008

Memphis vs Minnesota - 4.12.08

FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT! - The Grizzlies are going to be emptying the cabinets of every trinket left in stock tonight. The players are literally going to be giving fans the shirts off their backs! If you go to one game all season this is the one to attend. The first 5000 fans will receive T-Shirts and there will be plenty more given away. If you don't get a freebie the team store will be selling everything at a 50% discount as well!

Memphis pulled out a tough game in Miami to match last seasons win total of 22 games. It was the first win of the season for the Grizzlies without Mike Miller. It was also the third season sweep for the Grizzlies (the Knicks and the Nets were the others). Last season they were only able to sweep one team. Andre Brown had his best game of the season grabbing a career high 11 rebounds to go with his four (or was it six?) points. Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley controlled the game from the point with a combined 32 pts, 13 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals.

Minnesota is coming to town with a victory under their belt and a flight out of Florida as well after coming from behind to beat Orlando on Ryan Gomes' free throws with less than three seconds remaining. The 102-101 victory lifted the TWolves to 20 victories for the season. A loss to the Grizzlies will insure the TWolves no worse than the 3rd worst record in the regular season. Minnesota is running with a young lineup of Rashard McCants, Randy Foye, Corey Brewer, Gomes and Al Jefferson giving hope to their fans that better days are near.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Randy Foye
While it would be interesting to see former Villanueva guards Foye and Kyle Lowry match up head to head, Conley and Foye should be interesting as well. Conley and Foye are both up and coming PG's in the league but they are not cut from the same mold. Conley is a traditional point guard who to set up teammates first and his own shot second. Foye is a scorer first who looks to pass only after own shot has been ruled out. Foye has better range but Conley is quicker into the paint. Foye is also 4 years older than Conley.
Advantage: Minnesota

Shooting Guards: Juan Carlos Navarro vs Marco Jaric

Jaric is a converted PG who is better known for his girlfriend, Adriana Lima, than his game. That is too bad because Jaric has a decent game. match up head to head, Conley and Foye should be interesting as well. Never much of a scorer Jaric has become an efficient 3 pt spot up shooter and excellent passer from SG position. At 6-7 he has the size to look over smaller guards and the ability to harass shots on defense. What he doesn't have is quickness and that is his major weakness. Navarro is short, a creative passer but doesn't think pass first but boy can he shoot. Navarro has two weapons offensively: The infamous 'La Bomba' in the lane and the three pt shot. Navarro isn't a great defender but he is more than adequate in the zone which Memphis has been playing. Navarro also has deceptive quickness to get past many defenders. It appears Navarro is becoming concerned about the NBA 3 pt shooting record. That could be a distraction for him the rest of the season.
Advantage: Minnesota

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Kirk Snyder

Kirk Snyder has done a lot to spark Minnesota since coming over in the trade with Houston. Snyder is strong, has an erratic but effective shot but doesn't realize his range isn't out to the 3 pt line. However strong he may be he is not athletic enough to stop Rudy Gay. Rudy is on his way to becoming the 3rd Grizz to reach the 20 pt plateau for an entire season. He has done it by being among the league leaders in 3 pt shots and dunks. A rare double that only Kobe has matched this season.
Advantage: Memphis

Pwer Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs Ryan Gomes

What has happened to Hakim Warrick's rebounding? He is averaging barely 4 rpg over the last 10 games. That is simply not acceptable from a team's PF. His scoring has been slipping as well. Sure he's scored in double figures for 12 straight games but he has only breached 20 in a game once in the last 8 games. Is is fatigue? Is it team's responding to his game? I don't know but Hak better figure it out. Gomes has been stepping up lately. Not coincidently he is in the last year of his contract in Minnesota. Undersized at only 6-7 for a PF Gomes gets by using his wide body for positioning and extending his range. Hak has a tremendous speed advantage over Gomes and his height should allow him to get more boards.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Al Jefferson

Al Jefferson is everything that Memphis has been searching for in the middle but unable to find. A legitimate 20/10 man who's brute strength intimidates lesser men. Jefferson isn't a finise player in any sense of the word. He is power. Darko has struggled with more finese like players and done surprisingly well against power players. Jefferson is no exception as he has only averaged 18 pts and 9 boards against Memphis and most of that damage has been done while Darko was in foul trouble. Darko's offensive game has degraded to the point of being too erratic to depend on night to night. He's only 22 (the same age as Jefferson) but he has not learned how to use his size as a power player nor does he have confidence in his outside shot to be a consistent threat as a finisse player. Over the summer Darko needs to learn one style and become adept at it.
Advantage: Minnesota

Benches: Memphis vs Minnesota

Memphis' bench has been stretched thin by the loss of Javaris Crittenton (to injury) and Navarro (who is in the starting lineup with Miller's injury). That has taken what was a strength of the Grizzlies a week ago and made it a scary proposition. Memphis still has Kyle Lowry who is a sparkplug but now he is paired with Casey Jacobson, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins as subs. Rashard McCantsis the TWolves #2 scorer despite coming off the bench. His role is similiar to Mike Miller's of a few years ago when he won the 6th man award. Craig Smith attempts to be Jefferson's backup but he is too small to be effective in that role. He is acceptable as a back up PF but that is it. Corey Brewer hasn't shown the talent that made him a top pick in last year's draft often but he is starting to turn it on at the end of the year.
Advantage: Minnesota

Related Blogs:
Timberwolves Today
Wolves Watch

BallHype: hype it up!

1 comment:

NancyW said...

It's very ironic that the railing in Section 103 collapsed on Fan Appreciation Night. I hope that the injured people have a speedy recovery.