Who: Memphis Grizzlies (38-27) at Philadelphia 76ers (Bad)
When: Saturday, March 15th, 6:00 PM CST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch and Listen: Sportsouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Discuss: 3SOB on Twitter / 3SOB Forum, Grizzlies Message Boards
I apologize in advance for the lingering nature of the song in the above video. I’ve attended a handful of Sixers games over the past few years, and they’ve played this unforgettable tune at somewhere just south of half of ‘em. As a result, I’ve never not thought of its melody since it was first embedded in my memory banks. Now that that’s out of the way, I realize, I’m sort of skirting the issue a bit, because I don’t want to think about the Grizzlies’ shoddy performance from the second half of last night’s game, where they were simply outclassed by the sneaky good Toronto Raptors. Luckily, there’s nothing sneaky or good about this year’s 76ers team. In our preseason Assessing the Enemy series, my good friend Steve Sabato of The New Philadelphian described them as “an old abandoned couch filled with kerosene, dynamite, and lounge pants (the ones they warn you not to wear at night because they’re so flammable you will be engulfed in hellfire before you have a chance to escape your hypothetically burning house).” As long as the Grizzlies take the Sixers seriously, they should be able to ensure that they don’t walk away from the game batting 0 for 2 on the weekend.
Mike Conley vs Michael Carter-Williams
The Sixers are a team that is by design basically devoid of any and all things good from a basketball standpoint. Therefore, something has to be said about the fact that Michael Carter-Williams provides a clear exception to the rule, as you’d be hard-pressed to find a team that wouldn’t want this guy on their squad. At 6’6 with above average athleticism to boot, MCW has been a pleasant and welcomed surprise for Philadelphia fans this season. With his quick hands and ability to see the floor, he has established himself as a borderline lock for the rookie of the year award. The only thing he doesn’t do too well is shoot, which I expect will come around well enough in the coming years. Dangerous matchup for a dog-tired Mike Conley, tonight.
Courtney Lee vs James Anderson
James Anderson may not be a great NBA player, but he’s gone into full Tarence Kinsey mode in Philly, making the most of his opportunity to be a featured scorer as if he was on a D-League squad. With a green light to go nuts with the three ball, he’s put up 7.8 attempts per contest from the land of plenty over his last five games, and has connected on them at a 43.6% clip. He’s not asked to do much else, but the threes could hurt you if you’re not careful. Courtney Lee has been pretty up-and-down, especially with his jumper since the All-Star break, and a big game against this Sixers team that leads the league in single-player season high scoring outputs surrendered on the year could go a long way to getting him back on track.
Tayshaun Prince vs Hollis Thompson
Sadly, there aren’t many starting small forward matchups that we can presume should turn out in the Grizzlies’ favor before the opening tip. If there were such a thing this would be one of them.
Zach Randolph vs Thaddeus Young
The Sixers’ starting cast is like a game of “one of these things is not like the other.” Thaddeus Young is the exception. At 25 years old (just a year older than Ed Davis, to put it into perspective), Young is a veteran beyond his years trapped on this unfortunate roster. In the past, I’ve likened his game to what former Grizzly Dante Cunningham would be if he was built like a fire hydrant and smoother on the wing, and I like to throw the comparison out there every now and again when the opportunity presents itself. He’s been a tough match for Zbo, historically, but the last time these two faced off Rudy Gay was wearing blue.
Marc Gasol vs Henry Sims
Henry Sims is the second of two undrafted Georgetown products to be starting for the 76ers. He messed around and got himself 20 and 10 against Sacramento earlier in the week, but logged a far more palatable line of 6 and 4 against the Pacers last night. The Grizzlies will likely ratchet up the defense on Philly’s bigs after yielding a season high 23 points to Jonas Valanciunas yesterday, so I wouldn’t put money on Sims blasting off again tonight.
Off the Bench:
Tony Allen has been the de facto sixth man since his return and deserves to be the representative picture for the Grizzlies’ bench in these matchup previews, but consider this a rain dance of sorts to get James Johnson back into the rotation. I’m not outright stating any form of disagreement with what Coach Joerger is doing, but I just miss seeing “Bloodsport,” “the Equalizer,” “Dr. JJ,” or whatever you like to call him out there on the grind. The fact that we can’t get any minutes for him in spite of his productivity says all that you need to know about the depth of this team. With the Sixers trotting out our old friend Tony Wroten, U of M product, Elliot Williams, and BJ Mullens to counter, it’s safe to say I feel good about the second lines.