Who: Memphis Grizzlies at Detroit Pistons
When: 6:30 PM CST
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, Michigan
Records: Memphis (33-18), Detroit (21-33)
Media: TNT, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis entered the all-star break on a 3 game winning streak and starting to regain the swagger that led the Grizzlies to a strong start to the season. However the mini-streak shouldn’t be confused with the team that went 12-2 through November. First off the competition wasn’t nearly as strong. Second, the competition wasn’t as strong. Memphis is facing much tougher competition in March and needs to build on the success heading into the playoffs to get their chemistry back. How they return from the All-Star break could determine the direction of the team for the rest of the season and the team knows this. The offense has been clicking lately but the defense hasn’t regained the form they had with Gay. The Grizzlies won’t scare anyone in the playoffs unless they rediscover that defensive swagger and intensity.
Detroit is disappointed to be 21-33 at the All-Star break but has been making some noise that they could be figuring things out. An impressive 10 point win over San Antonio can do that for a team. Winning on the road at Milwaukee the next night didn’t hurt either. Like Memphis, Detroit has two powerful front court players in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond but they haven’t found a way to put them both on the court at the same time. Don’t be surprised to see them experiment with both big men in this game. The Pistons are a team looking to the future but the future is not that far off already. Knight, Drummond, Monroe and Singler all figure to be a part of the next Pistons playoff run. Experience, chemistry and a true shooting guard is all that the team needs to fight for the playoffs in the East. With their size inside they would be a scary opponent for any team in the second season too.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Jose Calderon
Jose Calderon was a Grizzlies nearly as long as Quentin Richardson which is to say not very long. However, like Richardson, Calderon’s stay has had a large impact on the Grizzlies today. Calderon has made a big impact in Detroit already as well averaging 14.67 PPG. In his last three games his assists have started picking up as well but is not at the level his season average suggests yet. Conley was forced into a more aggressive offensive role with the loss of Rudy Gay and so far has looked capable of handling the role. His scoring is up to 14.8 PPG in February on 42.9% from the field while dishing out 7.3 APG as well. Conley knows his role on the team and has the coach’s complete confidence. Calderon’s lack of foot speed will be a distinct disadvantage against an aggressive Conley.
Tony Allen vs Brandon Knight
Tony Allen has made a name for himself as a defensive stalwart in the NBA but lately he’s become an offensive threat. Allen was shooting 65.2% in February but it is unknown how he will return after the long break. He will be able to use his strength to his advantage against Knight when penetrating the lane. Knight is having a decent second season but has struggled with his shot all season, something that doesn’t bode well against the Grizzlies backcourt. When his shot is falling he can be very dangerous as San Antonio found out earlier in the month. Knight isn’t hesitant taking shots when he is in a groove. He just isn’t in a groove very often.
Tayshaun Prince vs Kyle Singler
Kyle Singler’s development was a large reason the Pistons agreed to the trade for Calderon. Stuck behind Prince and Daye, Singler needed court time to show the Pistons if he was capable of playing SF in the NBA. So far the results have been encouraging as Singler has averaged 12.4 PPG on 48.2% shooting. Tayshaun Prince has been erratic since arriving in Memphis but that is to be expected somewhat being that Prince had never played for anyone but Detroit prior to the trade. Prince has shot 49.2% from the field in Memphis but that included an 8 for 8 effort. He has hit 40% from the arc as well. Defensively he is struggling to fit into the Grit and Grind style of the Grizzlies but that will come. It may be tonight against a player he knows so well in Singler.
Zach Randolph vs Jason Maxiell
Zach Randolph made his second appearance in the All-Star game Sunday in Houston. While not playing much he did manage to score 6 points and grab 5 boards in the limited action. Randolph wasn’t his normal self heading into the All-Star break scoring just 13.8 PPG but he was still large on the boards averaging 11.3 RPG in his last 10 games. Maxiell could be losing his starting role as he has failed to make an impact lately. With promising Andre Drummond on the bench Maxiell is playing with a very short leash these days. Randolph is known to struggle against taller, more athletic bigs and Maxiell is neither. At 6-7, Maxiell survives by hard work. Randolph is a hard worker as well and has big advantages in size and experience.
Marc Gasol vs Greg Monroe
Marc Gasol wasn’t able to repeat his All-Star selection from last season but he didn’t miss it by much. If Howard hadn’t been voted on by the fans many people considered Gasol the most likely player to be named to the team to play Center. However Gasol has been very up and down offensively this season. When he is on his game the Grizzlies offense is much more effective. That won’t be easy against Monroe. Schooled at Georgetown under John Thompson Jr, Monroe is establishing himself as a serious player to watch. In February he is averaging 18.4 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG and 1.4 BPG. Monroe’s game also is adaptable to play PF allowing rookie Andre Drummond to join him in a twin tower alignment.
Memphis vs Detroit
Austin Daye was struggling to find opportunities in Detroit with Prince and Singler fighting him for PT. In Memphis he immediately earned minutes and has made the most of the opportunity. In his last 5 games Daye is hitting 56% of his FG attempts and 53% of his three balls. That is exactly the type of court spreading shooting the Grizzlies desperately need. Jerryd Bayless has been extremely effective as a scoring SG but has struggled running the offense from the point. With rookie Tony Wroten and the return of Quincy Pondexter pushing him for PT Bayless will need to show the ability to play the point to continue to get his opportunities. Ed Davis has struggled finding a role off the Grizzlies bench with Darrell Arthur entrenched as the backup PF and C. Detroit’s bench is led by rookie Drummond and veteran Rodney Stuckey. Stuckey has not responded well to his move to the bench offensively however. Charlie Villanueva and Corey Maggette round out the Pistons bench.