Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Charlotte Bobcats
When: Saturday, November 17, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
Records: Memphis (7-1), Charlotte (4-3)
Media: Sportsouth, NBA League Pass, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis makes its way into Charlotte for its first back-to-back of the year, on the heels of a brilliant stretch against a sample of the league’s elite. Last night’s victory against the Knicks to set the Grizzlies atop the league showed perhaps the most impressive trait of this year’s team when stacked against the teams of years past. The guys did not wilt when they watched their lead evaporate midway through the 4th. They dug deep and went back to their roots. A few solid pick and rolls with Zach Randolph, some Marc Gasol passes out of the post, and a dagger jumper by Rudy Gay sealed their way to victory. This team has not ceased to impress with its growth, showing poise and composure carrying through to the end. It’s a ringing testament to the leadership within and the chemistry that has been built. Robert Pera must be ecstatic with the deal he recently made. The Grizzlies are on top for now and are already feeling some love from the national media. Finally as an aside, how about the edge that they’re carrying with them? I’m not sure I remember a Grizzlies team that has carried this type of bravado. Zbo and Marc had their issues with Kendrick Perkins the other night, and Jerryd Bayless got into it with JR Smith last night. I’m totally cool with them not being known as the “nice guys,” but only so long as their cool is what they maintain. It’s nice to be a fan of the team that nobody wants to play. Grit n’ Grind, ladies and gents!
Charlotte, Charlotte, Charlotte. This team is looking like a far cry from that 7-win steaming pile of you-know-what that we saw last season. Maybe it’s the new coach; maybe it’s the infusion of energy from 2nd overall pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; maybe it’s the new jerseys; or maybe it’s the emergence of second year phenom, Kemba Walker. Or most realistically, it’s a combination of all of the above… except for the thing about the jerseys, that is. Whatever it is, it has taken the ‘Cats a grand total of seven games to eclipse the halfway mark of their overall win total from last season. 4-3 isn’t exactly anything to write home about, but all things considered, it’s a very impressive start for this group. In this small, early season sample, Kemba is scoring 19 per contest and positing a solid PER of 22.31. Most importantly though, he’s looking like he belongs in this league, and drained a beautiful 20 foot jumper for the win as time expired against Minnesota this week. In addition, they’ve gotten a great lift from their bench, with summer acquisitions, Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon, scoring the ball very well. Watching the Bobcats, there’s definitely a different feel around the team, and they could be deceptively dangerous for our Grizz.
Things to watch for: These ain’t your last year self’s Bobcats. If the Grizzlies treat them as such, they’ll be in big trouble. Especially after the degree of preparation that has had to have gone into the past few matchups, they can simply not afford to take it easy on this one. The Bobcats are rebounding, generating steals, and pushing the ball on offense. What this says to me is simple: the guys are believing in their coach, and playing hard. As the saying goes, “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” Hence they’re winning some games. With the newly league leading Grizzlies coming into town, you have to be sure that the Cats will be bringing their A-game. For the Grizzlies, and I preach this every game, it’s going to come down to their ability to do what they do best, and that is control the pace and abuse the paint… run when we have to run, but be sure to do it on our own terms.
Matchup of the Night: Rudy Gay vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – After enduring successive matchups against the undisputed elite at his position, Rudy cannot afford to take his next opponent lightly. A knock on Rudy in the past has been his tendency to get up for marquee matchups, but coast through the “lesser” ones. Thus, he has struggled mightily against the less-renowned, highly-active types like San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard. Enter MKG. Rudy is going to have to be sure not to take his draw for granted in this one.