When: Saturday, December 28th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Man, it would be nice to wash the taste of Thursday night out of our mouths with a win tonight. We’ve got a battle of two teams with rookie head coaches replacing widely respected veteran coaches coming off of very successful 2012-13 campaigns. The respective replacements of George Karl and Lionel Hollins have become the poster child representations of the new age approach to head coaching selection, and so far, with a hefty amount of noise in the form of injuries to cloud the evaluation, their results have been varied.
Expected Starting Lineups
Mike Conley vs Ty Lawson
There should be a great night at the point guard spot. We’ve got a battle of 26 year old up-and-comers sporting Player Efficiency Ratings in the 19 range. While they are both true point guards with a good nose for scoring the ball, there has to be a slight edge in favor of Lawson here, with Conley still feeling the effects of that thigh contusion and shooting just miserably from the field (23%) since his return.
Tony Allen vs Randy Foye
We’ve got a battle of specialists at the two-guard. However, to call Tony a specialist at this point is pretty much a slight, as his offense has been incredible by his standards this season. On the enemy lines, we’re looking at Randy Foye, who I may possibly be fostering some a degree of dislike stemming from that playoff series with the Clippers. But even objectively speaking he has not been nearly the player the Nuggets have hoped for. Dubbing him a specialist would be accurate if he was at least performing within the bounds of his specialty — which he’s not. Jordan Hamilton got the spot start in his place last night, and I would not be surprised to see that continue as a trend.
James Johnson vs Wilson Chandler
The battle of versatile swingmen with big neck tattoos. That pretty much says it all, but to take it a little deeper, while James Johnson has been a downright godsend, Wilson Chandler has the track record in his favor. I did say a “little” deeper. Johnson probably won’t get the start, but the way he has been playing I would not put it past him to get the bulk of minutes at the position.
Zach Randolph vs Kenneth Faried
Kenneth Faried sat out against the Pelicans last night with an ankle sprain, but has not yet been ruled out for this one. If he does get to play, let the battle of rebounding machines commence! Zach Randolph was celebrated by the city of Memphis yesterday, which just reeks of awesomeness, and to say that he has been anything short of a monster lately would be patently false.
Ed Davis vs JJ Hickson
Let’s keep the theme rolling — the battle of undersized fives manning the spot due to the incumbent starter’s injury status. Ed Davis has done an admirable job since coming back from his ankle issues, but still struggles with the predictability of his offense and the occasional case of stone hands. Regardless, I believe should have earned the right to play far more minutes against Houston, and with a favorable matchup on the way, he could find himself on the court much more. However, just because Hickson works out size-wise doesn’t mean that he is any kind of slouch. His efficiency is down a bit from last year’s display in Portland, but he is still a double double threat every time out.
I guess I’m going to keep using Seth Curry’s picture for the time being, until he actually gets to make his Grizzlies debut. The real players to be expected to see some burn have defined the concept of mixed bag, as pretty much anybody on the Grizzlies’ bench could be expected to produce anywhere on the spectrum between disappointing and productive. The Nuggets’ bench has the same kind of boom-or-bust potential, but possesses a tad more firepower with the unit of Hamilton, Timofey Mozgov, Nate Robinson, and Andre Miller capable of putting points up in a hurry.