Who: Memphis Grizzlies (28-23) vs. Orlando Magic (16-37)
When: Wednesday, February 12th 6:00 PM CST
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Watch and Listen: Sportsouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Discuss: 3SOB on Twitter / 3SOB Forum, Grizzlies Message Boards
Do you believe in magic? Do you believe in the Magic? Probably not at this point. I’m not sure the Magic believe in the Magic either, nor care to at this point. It’s the last game before the All-Star break, and they’re in prime position to walk into next season with one of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, or Joel Embiid in tow. A gut guess says they end up with Wiggins, regardless of where they pick, but to say that’s based on absolutely nothing would be a generous way of putting it. Anywho, I digress… there’s a game tonight! After barely holding onto a victory over the Wizards last night, the Grizzlies must maintain focus through this one, and make it count going into the break. The Magic may be lowly in the standings, but they did beat the Pacers on Sunday.
Nick Calathes vs Jameer Nelson
Talk about making the most of an opportunity. Nick Calathes seems to be pushing for Mike Conley’s title of “don’t be too quick to judge” poster boy with his recent stretch of filling in the starting PG role. He had himself a killer game against eastern conference All-Star John Wall last night, posting 18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals, while holding Wall to a meager 5 points. You have to hope that he left something in the tank for tonight, but on the bright side, his matchup Jameer Nelson is shooting just 40.7% on the year, and has been below double digits scoring the ball in each of his past three contests. Advantage? Um… I might go there. Yes, I’m going there and it feels fantastic. Don’t make me look bad, little Nicky. “You can do it!”
Courtney Lee vs Arron Afflalo
Benefiting from a slim lineup around him coupled with some scorching hot shooting percentages from basically everywhere and anywhere on the floor, Arron Afflalo stormed out of the gates like a madman to start the year. However, due to a number of circumstances and, you know, regression to the mean, his numbers have come back down to earth since the calendar struck 2014. Looking at the numbers, his minutes and field goal percentage have been in direct decline from December, to January, to February, and it warrants mention that this is just the first season of his seven year career in which he is posting an above league average PER (17.38). Still, he’s a guy to keep a watchful eye on under any circumstances, and Courtney got straight up worked by Bradley Beal last night.
Tayshaun Prince vs Tobias Harris
Tobias Harris came into the season with high hopes, but after missing the beginning of the year has yet to fall into any sort of consistent rhythm, much less mirror the otherworldly post-trade productivity that he enjoyed last season. Needless to say, he’s been a frustrating case for fantasy owners that that may have invested a decent draft pick in him this year… *looks around room*. His rebounding has actually been up this year, but he has been unable to find himself beyond the arc, putting up a percentage of 19.2 from the land of plenty. For the sake of comparison, Tayshaun Prince is shooting 31.1% from downtown. Regardless, Harris is an energetic wing with fantastic size, who basically by default figures to draw an advantage in this matchup.
Zach Randolph vs Glen Davis
Big Baby has never been mistaken for an animal on the glass at this level, but this year he has been considerably quiet on the boards relative to his two previous seasons in Orlando. This year he’s rebounding at a rate of just 11.8% of missed shots, while enduring his fourth straight season of a sub-50 shooting percentage. Last time against Memphis he put up 16 and 9, which looks good on the surface, but did so at a clip of 35.7% shooting. In other words, fire away, baby! Zach Randolph may have had himself a really rough night against Nene in Washington, but he should be able to take control of this one.
Marc Gasol vs Nikola Vucevic
Interesting matchup, here. Marc Gasol is slowly but surely regaining his form as a defensive stopper, and moreover showed some signs of life on his “jumper” last night against the Wiz. However, he is highly prone to suffering from “second game of back-to-back” syndrome, especially as he’s working to get back into game shape. It doesn’t make matters any better that he finds himself set to square off against a young and well-rested Nikola Vucevic, who is averaging a double-double on the nightly and is shooting 54.4% on two full days rest this season. It may sound blasphemous, but given the situation…
My love for James Johnson is teetering on the line of unbridled at this point. That highlight reverse dunk against Washington literally had me doing laps around my bedroom. He should see plenty of burn tonight if the starters come out with tired legs, especially against Orlando’s athletic wings and stretch fours. Speaking of, Orlando’s bench may possess guys like Kyle O’Quinn, Moe Harkless, and Andrew Nicholson, but its true fortunes lay in the hands of rookie guard Victor Oladipo, who dropped 13 in the fourth quarter against Indiana on Sunday to spearhead the rally leading to the Magic victory. Oladipo is a multifaceted threat to be dealt with, and has improved his playmaking, ballhawking, and free throw shooting as the season has worn on, with his comfort level running the offense rising by the minute. I give Memphis the nod with all that depth in the post, but Oladipo can swing the balance in Orlando’s favor all by himself on any given night.