Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Orlando Magic
When: Friday, February 22nd, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (35-18), Orlando (15-39)
Media: SportSouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis had definitely caught stride prior to the All-Star break, and is doing a fine job of maintaining it. The Grizzlies snagged both games of their post-All-Star break back-to-back road trip, by dispatching the Pistons and Raptors, respectively. In the process, they have extended their winning streak to five games. The last game in Toronto was a brutal one. It was the classic Grizzlies’ grinder that we’ve grown to love (and hate) just the same. The Grizzlies couldn’t quite shut the door on the Raps, and even when it seemed as if they finally did, the Raptors found more ways to crawl back until the final buzzer. For more on the last game, check out HPTMatt’s post-game. At the trade deadline, the Grizzlies opted not to shake things up any further, but made a minor move in acquiring Dexter Pittman from the Miami Heat for a trade exception. Tonight’s counterpart on the other hand…
Orlando may not have done anything incredibly drastic in terms of its overall impact on the league, but they did dramatically change the face of their roster, yesterday. If you don’t know already, they shipped out longtime Magician? (what’s the proper way to say that), J.J. Redick, along with big man Gustavo Ayon and former Grizzly, Ish Smith, to Milwaukee for Tobias Harris, Beno Udrih, and Doron Lamb. In another move, they sent one-time almost-Grizzly, Josh McRoberts for former-Grizzly, Hakim Warrick. And there I’ve met my quota of unnecessary connections for one preview, and maybe for the week. On top of that, Jameer Nelson is hurt, Al Harrington has an infection, Big Baby is out for the year, and Hedo Turkoglu is suspended. In addition, I’d be surprised to see any of their recent adds in action as soon as tonight. Needless to say, as if he didn’t already, Magic coach, Jacque Vaughn has his hands full tonight.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs E’Twaun Moore:
After struggling with his game for a while, the All-Star break seems to have afforded Mike Conley the requisite rest to get back on track. Technically he was looking a bit better before that, but in the last two games he has played very well. Against Detroit, he shot 8-11 from the floor, and followed up with a very sound 17-6-6 line, accompanied by 3 steals and a superlatively timely three to just about close the door on Toronto. By default, E’Twaun Moore should be filling in at the point for Orlando. He has the size that would usually give Mike some problems, but is not much of a true point guard.
Tony Allen vs Arron Afflalo:
Arron Afflalo has had his ups and downs in his first season with the Orlando Magic, but given the situation it is hard to fault him too much. Formerly regarded as a defensive menace, Afflalo has shifted into more of an offensive role by necessity, as he is putting up nearly twice his career average of field goal attempts per game (14.0 compared to 7.6). As his usage rate has risen, his efficiency has taken a hit. As for Tony Allen, the dude has been a man on a mission since the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay. The Toronto game was the first time in all of February that he was below 50% from the field, but look no further than Demar Derozan’s box score if you want to see Tony’s impact… who’s the best shooting guard Rudy’s ever played with, again?
Tayshaun Prince vs Moe Harkless:
The nineteen-year-old rookie from my hometown of Queens, New York, Moe Harkless has come onto the scene quite nicely for Orlando, but has struggled to some extent with his consistency. He’s coming off a nice last two games since the break, in which he’s totaled 35 points on just over 50% shooting. Tayshaun Prince has been a nice addition for the Grizz, but his 8 games since joining the team have been somewhat of a mixed bag offensively. That being said, his length and smarts should be difficult for the rookie to deal with.
Zach Randolph vs Andrew Nicholson:
Zach Randolph didn’t get the rest that he could have used by participating in All-Star weekend, which may have contributed in some way to his 23.5% shooting night, but you can’t stop the guy’s hustle. Zbo’s back to his double-double self since we’ve resumed Grizzlies’ action this week, posting statlines of 15-10 against Detroit and 17-18 in Toronto. Andrew Nicholson has been a nice revalation for the Magic. He was effective shooting the 3 ball in college, but has yet to take one this season. If he could pull Zach out of the paint, that would be good for him, but I don’t see it likely.
Marc Gasol vs Nikola Vucevic:
Speaking of revelations for the Orlando Magic, how about the rapid growth of Nikola Vucevic as an NBA player? He’s been thrown to the fire basically since being traded to Orlando, and he’s responded by performing in a big way. His scoring and rebounding numbers have risen each month, and he is averaging 15.6 points on 52.4% shooting, to go along with 13.0 rebounds per game for the month of February. Marc has stumbled hard out of the gate post All-Star, in terms of shooting the ball, but has found other ways to affect the game, namely with his 7 assists against Detroit, and 4 blocks in Toronto. In a moment of indecision, I’m going to ride the hot hand. I sincerely hope to be proven wrong, but
I have got to be honest, if the new guys aren’t ready to go, I have no idea who will be playing off the bench for the Magic outside of rookie, DeQuan Jones. Jones has played sporadically, but he should end up with a good chance to prove himself tonight. As for the Grizzlies, Jerryd Bayless has cooled off essentially since moving back to more of a facilitative point guard role, as Tony Wroten has fallen further down the rotation. That being said, the Magic have won 3 of their last 29 games. If the Grizzlies can stay on top as they should, Wroten should see plenty of time on the court. We might even be treated to an extended Jon Leuer sighting.