When: Sunday, December 15th, 5:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
So the Grizzlies got a boost in the form of the respective returns of Tony Allen and Ed Davis on Friday night, but could not translate the uptick in morale into team success, as they fell to the Pelicans 104-98. They burst out of the gates with a quick start, but as outlined by Matt Noe in the post-game write-up, another third quarter from Hades spelled their demise in what was previously shaping up to be a winnable game. Tonight the Grizzlies take on a Minnesota Timberwolves team that is similarly underperforming its expectations, sitting at a shade below .500.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Ricky Rubio
While it may not be saying much, Mike Conley is as good as it gets on the Grizzlies’ roster night in and night out. However, to say that his stats have felt the burn of Marc Gasol’s absence would be an understatement. Conley’s scoring efficiency numbers have plummeted since the big man’s injury, most notably illustrated in the disparity of his true shooting percentage, which has gone from 59% with Marc in the fold, to 52.3% without. But if you want to talk shooting percentage woes, look no further than Ricky Rubio, who is shooting just 37.4% from the field, which would even have Rudy Gay turning his head.
Tony Allen vs Kevin Martin
Don’t let the lack of bottom line success fool you, Kevin Martin has been a damn good signing for the Timberwolves. Once lauded as the Grizzly killer of all Grizzly killers, Martin’s recent outings against the good guys have allowed my distaste for him to subside, but he has carried his continued excellence from beyond the arc with him to Minnesota, currently maintaining a higher 3PT% than FG% on the season, at 41.5% to 40.9%. All the while he’s back over the 20-mark, at 21.5 PPG. Tony Allen has his hands full.
Tayshaun Prince vs Corey Brewer
I’m not sure there’s a more mediocre three point shooter in the league than Corey Brewer that takes as many shots from down town as he does. At the moment, he’s hoisting up just over 4 threes per game, while connecting on just 29.5% of them. To contrast, Tayshaun Prince has been a poor shooter, but he knows it, as is reflected by his 0.7 3PT attempts per contest — the lowest mark of his career by a considerable margin. But there’s more to the game than three point shooting ability and one’s awareness of their own. Relatively speaking, Brewer is having a much more productive season.
Zach Randolph vs Kevin Love
Much like the meetings with Blake Griffin, Zbo really gets up for these games against Kevin Love, who has been encroaching upon his territory as Mr. 20/10 for quite some time now. Randolph, like most, has seen a tremendous drop in efficiency since Gasol went down. Before the Grizzlies lost Marc, Zach’s TS% was 57.1%. In the six games he’s played since, his TS% has been a painful 45.1%. Ouch. Love on the other hand just put down 42 on Zach’s kryptonite, the San Antonio Spurs. Hurts me to say this, but…
Kosta Koufos vs Nikola Pekovic
Since filling in as the starter, Kosta Koufos has been playing hard and averaging a solid line of 10.1 PPG, 10.9 RPG, and 1.8 BPG, but that’s the bright side. Looking at the other side, however, he is shooting a paltry 41.1% as a starter, and converting an ugly 45.5% of shots at the rim. Nikola Pekovic is a big, tough match at the five, who signed a fat contract in the offseason for good reason. He doesn’t operate anywhere besides in the post, but he’s sinking 55.8% of his attempts in the restricted area on the year.
Call him Jonny Badger, or whatever else may tickle your fancy, the fact of the matter is that he’s getting the job done off the bench. His second-string frontcourt mate Ed Davis returned in the Grizzlies’ last game and turned in a decent performance in his own right, and was getting into a rhythm with the team before his ankle acted up. Looking over at the bad guys’ bench, we’ve got a fan favorite who once stood in their shoes and endeared himself to the fan base by simply playing his rear end off on the nightly, in Dante Cunningham, a diminutive, wily point guard who has historically caused some problems for the Grizz, in JJ Barea, and a newly acquired defensive specialist, in Luc Mbah a Moute. The Grizzlies’ have some questions to be answered 1-3, but their hot 4-5 combo swings the edge in favor of the home team.