Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Charlotte Bobcats
When: Tuesday, April 9th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (52-25), Charlotte (18-59)
Media: SportSouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Discuss at: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis has won five of its last six and is continuing to further its cause in jockeying for playoff position. The Grizzlies also continue to have a flair for the dramatic, though, as three out of the last four games were decided by a mere two points. Last time out, the joint heroics of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol brought the two point win in favor of the Grizzlies, as Conley sank the go-ahead basket: a beautiful teardrop from the fingertips of his off hand, and Gasol aided the victory efforts with two major blocks to seal the game. While it is unsettling that the Grizz have failed to pull away from opponents with any great distance, the ability to escape the tight ones with a W will prove valuable as they gear up for a postseason run.
Charlotte is a fitting opponent tonight, as the matchup falls a day to the latter of the NCAA National Championship game. I guess now would be as good a time as any to admit that I’m writing this preview with about half of my attention devoted to the aforementioned game. So why is this fitting, you ask? Quite simply, in the past two years, the Bobcats drafted a player from the team that won the NCAA title that year. Respectively speaking, they selected Kemba Walker from UConn and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky. In other words, look out for Gorgui Dieng or Peyton Siva to find their way onto the Bobcats’ 2013-14 roster! As for the present, the Cats have been atrocious ever since starting the season a surprising 7-5. It’s sadly indicative of the kind of year you’re having when winning 3 of your last ten is actually an improvement over your season average. A loss tonight would hand the Cats their 60th of the season.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Kemba Walker:
A big difference I’ve noted in Conley lately is his aggressiveness in looking to score at the rim. He rides with the breaks on when he walks the ball up the court a bit more than Lionel Hollins would like, but is certainly realizing ways to make the most of his top flight speed on the offensive end, and the volume of easy baskets has boosted his scoring outputs tremendously as he is averaging 20.4 over the last ten. Walker is a guard who bears a lot of similarities to Conley and their PER ratings are only 0.07 apart from one another, with the slight edge favoring Walker. Since Walker’s numbers all across the board drop considerably away from home, I like Conley in this one.
Tony Allen vs Gerald Henderson:
Henderson is one of the more vastly improved players in the NBA this season. He never really gets too much love, for a variety of reasons including playing for a team with a .243 win percentage, but does a lot of good things on the court. He doesn’t rack up highlight-reel dunks with any regularity, and it’s a blue moon to see him sink any more than a three on a given night. What he does do is shoot effectively in the mid-range game, get to the free throw line, and move well off the ball. He’s a restricted free agent after the year and will likely get some attention as such, but has been quoted with intentions to stay in Charlotte.
Tayshaun Prince vs Michael Kidd-Gilchrist:
Heading into the draft, I always saw Kidd-Gilchrist as having the potential to turn out as somewhat of a “rich-man’s” Prince. Picture Tayshaun a little bulkier and with an endless motor. MKG has shown flashes of brilliance here in his rookie year, boldened by games like his 18 point, 14 rebound performance against the B-squad of the Miami Heat. He has not, however, been consistent in his productivity, and Prince’s strengths do not fall in line with those that Kidd-Gilchrist’s tend to negate.
Zach Randolph vs Josh McRoberts:
The Grizzlies almost had McRoberts under contract at one point, when they failed to complete the OJ Mayo trade to Indiana on time. Since then, teams have played hot potato with him, as he spend last season on the Lakers bench, the earlier part of this year in Orlando, and is now starting for the Bobcats. He has a reputation of being able to shoot the 3, which generally gives Zbo trouble, but has hit only two treys since the month of February.
Marc Gasol vs Bismack Biyombo:
Last year, Biyombo provoked one of the more entertaining Rudy Gay quotes of the season. Biyombo is young, raw, can rebound, and tries to block everything in his vicinity. He’s got a 7’6 wingspan, so his vicinity tends to be pretty expansive. He’s starting by default in Charlotte, but when he develops beyond the glorified-prospect phase and begins to pick and choose his battles when it comes to blocking shots, he will be a force to be reckoned with. Gasol is too smart a player to allow Biyombo to stay on the court without racking up the foul column.
Rejoice! There has been a Quincy Pondexter sighting! The brightest of the silver lining in Sunday’s victory over the Kings has to have been Pondexter’s shaking off the doldrums in a 17 point, 5 rebound performance. Qpon hasn’t been himself since returning from the knee injury, so games like his last are encouraging to say the least. He was arguably the Grizzlies’ most reliable outside shooter prior to getting hurt, and any help in that department will go a long way. As for the Bobcats, dangerous scorer Ben Gordon headlines the squad, but thanks to injuries, is joined by a skeleton crew of the ghost of Tyrus Thomas, Jeremy Pargo’s brother (I kid, don’t sleep on Jannero), and Reggie Williams.
Queen City Hoops