Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Detroit Pistons
When: Friday, November 30, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (11-2), Detroit (5-11)
Media: SportSouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis took down yet another opponent, and continues to torch its way through this early stretch of the season. Tonight’s matchup against the Pistons caps an 11 day, 5 game homestand, so the Grizzlies look to keep the ball rolling in the right direction, as they take their talents on the road. This whole stretch has been fantastic, but nothing would be more deflating than dropping this game, which falls on the first half of a back-to-back that concludes in San Antonio. In other words: don’t sleep on this one, Grizz! A little bit more momentum (and some late game rest for the starters) could go a long way tomorrow. This game, much like the past two, is a shoe-in victory on paper, which is exactly what worries me. For nearly the entirety of the Cavs, and the first half of the Raptors game, the Grizzlies toed the line and “got by” by actually being a better team. They woke up in the second half last game, and blew the doors off the Raptors, and they’re going to have to come out with the same spark early in this one. We don’t want our starters to have to come to the rescue towards the end, and exhaust themselves prior to the travel and grind of the next day.
Detroit started off the year with a miserable 8 straight losses, but since has picked up steam, going 5-3 in their next 8 games. Their schedule has not been the strongest, but blowout victories against Philadelphia, Boston, and Phoenix are nothing to sneeze at. Something has clicked for this Pistons team. While you cannot pinpoint a single catalyst for their turnaround, it would be fair to note that its timing bears precise correlation to the insertion of the rookie out of Duke, Kyle Singler, into the starting lineup. During the stretch of the last 8 games, Detroit’s average scoring output is up nearly 8 points over that of the first 8. I apologize… that’s a lot of ’8′s to take in. More importantly, however, the players are beginning to carve out their niche within the team’s revamped rotation and realize what is to be expected of them.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Brandon Knight:
Brandon Knight could become a very Mike Conley-esque player. He doesn’t post all that many assists, but is a pretty good game manager. Like Mike Conley was earlier in the career, Knight has been thrown to the wolves from the get-go in a terrible situation. However, he possesses something that Conley didn’t at that point in his career: a lethal three point shot. In each of past four games, Knight has drained a trio of threes, with total scoring outputs of no less than 16 points. All of this being said, he is very streaky, and not nearly the complete player that Conley is, at this point.
Tony Allen vs Kyle Singler:
Kyle Singler is not your typical rookie, as he has spent a full four years in college under one of the greatest coaches of all time, in addition to a full year of pro-ball overseas under his belt. His insertion into the starting lineup has helped invigorate this Pistons team, and while it’s hard to say how long it is going to last, things have been encouraging in Detroit. Singler is a heady player with great size and a sound jumper on the perimeter, who knows his athletic limitations and how to play within himself. This should be an interesting draw for Tony Allen, who is used to dealing with more explosive scoring guards as his matchup. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of Q-Pon in this spot to keep TA fresh for Ginobili.
Rudy Gay vs Tayshaun Prince:
Rudy Gay dropped a season low 14 points against the Raptors, but continuined to connect on his three point shot, landing three. His streak has been extended to 9 straight games with a make from the land of plenty. He’s about to run into Detroit’s lone remnant of the ’04 championship team, Tayshaun Prince, who is a long, wiley, heady defender, and is bound to give him heck tonight. If this was a few years ago, I might flip the advantage the other way.
Zach Randolph vs Jason Maxiell:
Don’t let the lack of household name appeal fool you, Jason Maxiell is a tough matchup on any night. He’s a wide-based, hard-nosed guy, who can get off his own shot. He doesn’t pull down a whole lot of boards, but you can be sure that he’ll make you put in work under there for yours. The thing is, for all the positives you can say about Maxiell, you can say the same for Zbo. And then some.
Marc Gasol vs Greg Monroe:
Marc Gasol and Greg Monroe has got to be the matchup of the night. I’m sorry, but whoever says that the center position is dead is flat wrong in my humble opinion. No this isn’t the golden age of the ’90′s, but there are some darn good guys playing the position, and Greg Monroe is perfectly indicative of just that. Monroe is a fantastically well rounded player, who I would say is the only big man who could pose Marc a threat in ranking the best passing bigs in the league. Monroe doesn’t receive too much accolade, but he is rapidly improving and has established himself quite nicely in the league. As evidenced by the triple double he posted against Sacramento earlier this season, he can do it all. He rebounds, he passes, and he has nice array of moves in the post. If he was more effective on the defensive end, I’d have a tough decision to make here. We know what we’re going to get with Marc, who has made a strong case for himself as the best center in the game right now.
Marreese Speights has been struggling, but showed out strong against Toronto with a respectable 18-12 line. Whether he can keep it up off the bench is the $4 million question. Wayne Ellington has fallen off since the Miami game, Darrell is back (kind of), but not in form yet, and Jerryd Bayless has been above average (which is the best we’ve seen at the backup point in a long time), but seems to be forcing the issue a bit. The only member of the Grizzlies bench that you know for sure what you’re going to get from him has been Quincy Pondxter. Q plays within himself, but has been able to push that definiton of “himself” a little bit farther seemingly every time he steps onto the floor. Detroit’s bench is shaping up quite nicely for them. Charlie Villanueva is not dissimilar to Mo, but has range extending beyond the three point line, and for the stretches in which his head is screwed on straight he is a real dangerous opponent. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, he’s in one of those stretches. Additionally the Pistons’ bench boasts versatile combo guard, Rodney Stuckey, proven scorer, Corey Maggette, and rookie shot-blocker and physical foul machine, Andre Drummond. Their bench is not what you’d expect out of a team in their position.