Who: Phoenix Suns vs Memphis Grizzlies
When: 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (30-15), Phoenix (16-32)
Media: SportSouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis faces the Suns for the fourth and final time this season with a far different team than they put on the court just a month ago. Gone is the Grizzlies greatest SF in franchise history as Rudy Gay along with Hamed Haddadi was traded in a 3 way deal that returned Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye from Detroit and Ed Davis from Toronto. So far the results haven’t been disastrous as the Grizzlies held off a game Washington Wizard team to go 1-1 in the post Rudy Gay era. Prince made his mark scoring 8 points in the final quarter in the victory. The Grizzlies have had a few days off now and should be better prepared to face the Suns. This game launches the Grizzlies easiest part of the season. The team needs to find their chemistry quick as the other contenders in the West won’t wait for the Grizzlies to catch their breath.
Phoenix has the second worst record in the Western Conference at 16-32. The Suns weaknesses stem from a weak defense (23rd in the league) and weak rebounding (25th ) but number are an improvement from the last time these two teams met. Phoenix has had no trouble giving the Grizzlies trouble all the same. The Suns had to first matchup won if not for a superlative effort from Zach Randolph (38 points and 22 rebounds). The Suns won the 2nd matchup on a last second shot by PG Goran Dragic. The 3rd game went more according to plan as the Grizzlies won going away. The Suns are dealing with another issue as well. A story has broken that forward Michael Beasley was cited last month for suspicion of speeding, driving with a suspended license and driving a vehicle without plates or registration.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Goran Dragic
With Rudy Gay gone Mike Conley stepped up in a big way against John Wall and the Wizards. His 18 points and 6 assists were important for the Grizzlies as they search to find new leadership on offense. Goran Dragic leads the Suns in scoring but at only 14.2 PPG which says more about the lack of offense on the Suns than the scoring ability of Dragic. The 6-3 Slav is a decent long-range shooter and has size over Conley but has struggled at times with Conley’s speed. With Conley getting the green light to be more aggressive it should force Dragic to focus more on defense where he is not as strong a player.
Tony Allen vs Jared Dudley
Jared Dudley has been floating back and forth between SF and SG this season as Phoenix searches for some combination that produces consistent wins. Dudley has been effective shooting the ball hitting 48.3% of his field goal attempts and 39.3% of his threes. Allen has been struggling on offense over the last 5 games shooting only 38.1% from the field. The numbers look worse than they really are however since Allen was 3-12 shooting against OKC when the team entire team played most of the game in a funk. In the other 4 games Allen is 13-30. Allen is never counted on for offense however and his defense and attitude are as sharp as ever.
Tayshaun Prince vs P J Tucker
Prince announced to the Memphis fans that they didn’t get screwed in the Rudy Gay trade going 7-11 for 14 points including 8 big points in the decisive 4th quarter. Prince also had a big block down the stretch to ice the game for the Grizzlies. Prince’s experience plus the gaping hole at SF make it nearly a certainty that he will start against Phoenix. PJ Tucker is a physical if undersized SF at 6-6 who is still struggling to find his role in the Suns offense. The 2nd year forward had a solid start against the Warriors in his last game but Prince and the Grizzlies play a slightly more intense brand of defense than the Warriors. Prince is looking to build on his strong start and the days of practice has to help build his confidence.
Zach Randolph vs Luis Scola
Luis Scola has regained his starting role with the Suns after coming off the bench early in the season. The Argentine is showing his age however averaging a career low in FG% and near career lows in rebounding and scoring. In his last five games those numbers have dropped even lower. Zach Randolph has struggled lately with a sore back which has affected his play as well. The All-Star is still leading the league in double-doubles but is no the same player he was earlier in the season. With the time off it is hoped that Randolph will regain some of the power he displayed early in the season.
Marc Gasol vs Marcin Gortat
Phoenix has been rumored to be shopping Gortat who has been a disappointment this season after looking to be a breakout candidate after last year. Gortat’s play has dropped across the board this season. Gasol has been up and down all year on offense. At times he has looked dominant and other times passive. Gasol has regained some of his swagger of late on offense while maintaining his defensive prowess. Most importantly Gasol has become a force rebounding averaging 8.2 RPG in his last ten games. With Randolph struggling Memphis will need Gasol to be aggressive on both ends of the glass.
Jerryd Bayless has regained his confidence after struggling for most of the season averaging double figures in scoring over his last 10 games. Bayless has reached double figures in FG attempts in four straight games after hitting that mark only twice before in the season. Ed Davis joins Darrell Arthur on the front line and is expected to have a bigger impact now than he did against Washington in his first game. Tony Wroten is expected to have limited minutes as Austin Daye and Chris Johnson’s long-range shooting are expected to be given the opportunity to spread the Suns defensively. Shannon Brown leads the Suns bench scoring but most eyes will be on Micheal Beasley. Over his last 10 games Beasley looked to be finding his form averaging 15.8 PPG and 6.8 RPG but it is unknown how he will react to the recent police troubles. Markieff Morris and Jermaine O’Neal will man the frontcourt off the bench and Sebastian Telfair will man the point.
Valley of the Suns