When: Wednesday, December 18th, 7:30 PM CST
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
The Grizzlies run into this one on the second half of a back-to-back, while tonight’s opponent, the Dallas Mavericks, have been sitting pretty resting since Saturday night’s Dirk-less win over the Milwaukee Bucks. The Grizz have some pretty bad negative momentum and are looking to avoid losing their fifth straight game, after falling to the Lakers in the “battle of no point guards” last night. In spite of the awful performance, it’s hard to fault the Grizzlies considering their historically bad case of the injury bug, but to be frank this season has been rough on just about anybody with a shade of emotion tethered to the team.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Jerryd Bayless vs Jose Calderon
No official word yet, but I’m willing to bet that Mike Conley doesn’t make it on the court for this one either. Jerryd Bayless did a decent job of scoring the ball last night, but was a net-negative presence on the court at -10 for the game. The good news, however, is that he should be able to match up decently with Mavs point guard Jose Calderon, who has seen his field goal percentage and assist rate plummet since switching zip codes to Dallas in the offseason. While many will point to Conley’s absence if the Grizzlies fall again, this matchup will not likely win or lose this game.
Tony Allen vs Monta Ellis
The shooting guard matchup between Memphis and Dallas was wholly compelling last season, with TA shutting the water off on OJ Mayo, but while there is less of a history between the two players this year, it should be equally as captivating. Tony has not been “shutting the water off” like we have become accustomed to, of late, which likely has some ties to him lacking a dominant big man to funnel the opposition to (or cover his rear when he gets burned on a gamble). This has been a renaissance year for Monta Ellis, who is logging his highest true shooting percentage since 2008 on the season, and has been putting up major points regardless of his matchup.
Tayshaun Prince vs Shawn Marion
Mike Miller started the second half last night, and Prince failed to see the court for the rest of the game. Personally, I expected a big turnaround for him this season, and question if there is more to it than the calf. James Johnson could be in for a crash course in Grizzlies basketball, if Prince can’t play today. Shawn Marion, even having lost a fraction of his trademarked athleticism, is one of the more versatile forwards in the game, and could be an absolute nightmare tonight, especially on the glass.
Zach Randolph vs Dirk Nowitzki
After missing Saturday’s game due to an illness, Dirk Nowitzki is good to go tonight, which is never good news for the opposing team. The presence of Monta running the pick and roll has done wonders with regards to opening up Dirk’s game, as he is sniffing shooting in the 50% range for the first time since 2011. The last time these teams met, Zbo held his own, but he also had a 23 point performance from Marc Gasol to help deflect defensive attention. The big guy is doing the best that he can to get the team on his back, but even his shoulders are not wide enough to carry this load all alone. When he’s tied for the team lead in assists, you know that the offense has got to be a bit rough around the edges. I love you Zbo, but you’ve got a lot on your plate tonight.
Kosta Koufos vs Brendan Wright
Brendan Wright made his 2013 debut on Saturday, and managed to impress in his return to action putting together a 9-10 shooting line, with six rebounds to put the cherry on top. Scoring, is not his game by any stretch, though, and with Dirk in the lineup, he will be more of a rebounding/shotblocking garbage man. Kosta Koufos got abused by Pau Gasol last night, but this matchup is far more favorable for him.
After being pretty much a stat sheet animal last season, Vince Carter has cooled down considerably to start the year. He is currently down to shooting 38.1% from the floor, while his inflated 3pt% of 40.6% last season has come down to earth at 34.3%. The Grizzlies’ bench is actually starting to pick up some momentum, making the most of the opportunity afforded by the injury rampage that has afflicted the team thus far. Jon Leuer and Ed Davis have been just short of awesome contributing off the bench. Time will tell if they can stay this hot, but for the time being they are doing quite well for themselves. If Nick Calathes can start clicking with some regularity, things will be looking up for the second-unit. What will sting for Memphis is the loss of Mike Miller, who was the latest victim of the dark injury cloud hanging over the team by being struck with an ankle sprain last night.