Game: Memphis vs Philadelphia
When: 7:00 pm CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis Grizzlies (18-15), Philadelphia 76ers (20-12)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Philadelphia – Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks, Andre Iquodala, Elton Brand, Lavoy Allen
Memphis fell in Houston last night after a tough battle, typical of these two southwest division rivals. This will be the 4th game in five days for the Grizzlies but also the 4th game in Memphis. After this game the won’t play again until February 29th, also in Memphis, so everyone should be ready to give all they have before the All-Star break gives the Grizzlies players some time to rest.
Rest is needed for the Grizzlies as they have numerous players having logged extensive minutes this season especially All-Star Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Rudy Gay. Both Conley and Gay logged over 40 minutes against Houston so fatigue may be a factor for them tonight. Marc Gasol is second in the league in minutes played as well. This game could revolve around two players with both Philadelphia and Memphis connections. Marresse Speights of the Grizzlies was traded to Memphis for two second round draft picks, a rather bargain basement price for a former lottery pick in a contract year. Speights has responded to the team’s interest in him posting career highs in points and rebounds against New Jersey and is averaging 12.6 points and 10.9 rebounds in his last seven games.
Philadelphia has shocked most NBA pundits with their team’s projections. The 76ers also have a player of interest for Memphis fans as Thaddeus Young, formerly of Memphis, returns home having signed a big new contract in the off-season. Philadelphia is an interesting team with their 6th man, Louis Williams actually leading the team in scoring averaging 15.9 ppg. Andre Iquodala, Elton Brand and Jrue Holliday all help keep the starting team scoring but the big surprise in starting center Lavoy Allen who has been starting in 7 of the last 9 games for Philadelphia. This summer Allen was the last player mentioned in ESPN’s list of the top 500 players in the league.
Philadelphia is on a 3 game losing streak, the longest of the season for the Sixers, after falling at Minnesota, to Dallas and at Orlando. The Sixers must travel to Houston after the game to play Houston tomorrow before breaking for the all-star weekend activities. Philadelphia does not want to lose five straight games heading into the all-star break so expect a spirited effort tonight from a very deep team.
Prediction: A tough battle for sure but the Grizzlies will pull it out in the end.
UPDATE: Elton Brand is out tonight. Andres Nocioni to start. Brand is expected to miss two games with a sprained thumb.