Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Phoenix Suns
When: Tuesday, December 4th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (12-3), Phoenix (7-11)
Media: SportSouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis had a real rough go of it the other night… dare I mention the specifics of it? Okay, I really don’t want to, but I guess I’m obligated to, in writing this section. San Antonio once again owned the Grizzlies, putting us at a good ol’ 0-5 against them since that fateful seven game series. Now I know San Antonio is a darn good team, and while it’s hard to be down on the Grizzlies given the incredible season they’ve put together thus far, it’s old habits that are creeping up on us and causing reasons for alarm. I’m not concerned with the fact that the Grizz lost, but rather with the fact that this was such a winnable game. In spite of the “tired legs” after playing Detroit, the Spurs’ extra rest due to Pop’s controversial sitting of his stars against Miami, and the absence of Tony Allen, the Grizz were able to put themselves in position to win the game. They had every opportunity to win the game, and they didn’t. I’m not going to sit here and blame the officiating, because they had every chance to overcome it. The inability to make shots and execute down the stretch was reprehensible, and what was worse was the inability to protect the ball. Sloppy passing in the form of baseball passes that squandered opportunities, a few rare bad decisions from Marc to force the ball into clogged passing lanes, and getting stripped after a defensive rebounds are things that championship caliber teams do not do. Like we said after the Nuggets’ game, it’s how you bounce back that shows what you are made of. Let’s pick up the pieces tonight against…
Phoenix, who has been pretty up and down to start the year en route to their 7-11 record. For the most part, they’ve been doing exactly what’s to be expected of a lower middle-of-the-road team, which is what they are. The majority of their wins have come against fellow middle-of-the-pack teams, while the majority of their losses have occurred at the hands of opposition that possessed the on-paper advantage. There has been a lot of tinkering done with the starting lineup and they are trying to get things settled to get on track. Currently, however, the Suns are trending down on a 3 game losing streak, that commenced with a deflating 40 point loss to the Detroit Pistons. The Suns are looking a lot like the anemic Suns of the D’Antoni days, as they are proud owners of a league-worst 102.7 points against average. Fun fact, you know who leads the league in that stat? Our Grizz at 90.7. These two teams couldn’t be any more different, and the Suns always tend to make things interesting against us.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Goran Dragic:
Dragic earned himself a nice new contract with his play at the end of last year for Houston, and has been above average thus far. He started off the year very strong, but lately his assist totals are down, as he’s having a bit of trouble leading this shuffling Suns lineup. Mike Conley is probably the only guy that I can’t say a bad thing about on our team right now. He’s becoming a lethal timely shooter from the arc, and was our only provider of hope towards the end of that San Antonio game.
Tony Allen vs Shannon Brown:
Shannon Brown is a streaky, but potentially explosive scorer. He’s like an OJ Mayo IPA. Similar player with more hops. Of course, I’m referencing the OJ that we knew in Memphis, and not this year’s version. Brown doesn’t turn the ball over too much, but he’s got real shaky handles, so I’d expect Tony to give him heck if he’s ready to go. If not, I give Brown the edge over the Wayne Man.
Advantage: Memphis, until further notice
Rudy Gay vs Michael Beasley:
Is there a bigger enigma in the league than Michael Beasley? This dude is so talented on the offensive end, but it seems like he has never really cared enough to grow his game beyond where he was at K-State. His play has been up and down this year, and his playing time has followed in suit. Surprisingly though, the requests of, “Michael please, pass the ball,” have been answered to some extent, as he’s posted 5 or more assists in four games so far. Rudy is a far more well rounded player, to I’ll give him the edge, but Beasley could outperform him on any given night given his talent.
Zach Randolph vs Markieff Morris:
Zbo put up what looks like a nice line against the Spurs, until you consider the FG%. He shot 5-21, which is under 25% from the floor. He stepped out for the 15-18 footer far too often against Matt Bonner, who he could have easily maken mince meat of had we got him in the paint. Markieff Morris is a versatile guy who has played himself into the starting role in his second season in Phoenix. Initially he made the most of it, but his production has tapered off a bit.
Marc Gasol vs Marcin Gortat:
Marcin Gortat is yet another big man making my case that the center position is alive and well in the NBA. His move to Phoenix, or rather his escape from Dwight Howard’s shadow, has granted exposure to the fact that he is a really good player. Like the rest of this Suns team, his outputs have been up and down, but again I attribute this to the degree of unrest among the rotations. Gortat is a big, physical guy, who blocks shots and should be a lot of fun to watch against our post players. Marc made some mistakes against the Spurs and couldn’t stay away from foul trouble, but still managed to hold his own offensively against Tim Duncan. I would expect him to be far more disciplined after watching film from the last one.
The Grizzlies’ bench is still trying to get things figured out, as Lionel Hollins is still in the process of working Darrell Arthur back into the rotation. Darrell has put up double figures in the last two games, and looked pretty solid against the Spurs with his patented deep elbow jumper and a nice cutting dunk. His athleticism might come in handy against Markieff Morris at some point in the game. Other notes about the Grizzlies bench: Bayless has been a bit trigger happy of late, and Ellington has still hit more threes in the Heat game than he has the rest of the season put together. The Suns’ bench possesses a bunch of crafty guys that could come in and give our guys problems. Luis Scola has been a pain in the neck for the Grizzlies year after year, Jared Dudley is a heady player, Jermaine O’neal has been surprisingly effective but might not play, and Sebastian Telfair is a highly effective backup point guard.
Valley of the Suns