Time: 7 p.m.
Place: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (3-6), New York (6-4)
Media: TNT, 92.9 FM
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
New York – Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudamire, Tyson Chandler
Memphis has lost three straight games after going 2-0 after Zach Randolph was injured. The last loss was particularly painful as it came at home against an Oklahoma City team not playing at their best. The Grizzlies did find their offense for the first three quarters but failed to reach 15 points in the 4th and fell 100-95. Too much dribbling, quick shots and an inability to get the ball to open teammates have been the main culprits to the offensive execution.
Lionel Hollins came out in today’s Commercial Appeal expressing frustration with the Grizzlies defense. In wins the Grizzlies have held opponents to 91.6 points but in the losses Memphis has given up 96.8 points. Hollins conceded that the plethora of new players has been a reason but refused to accept excuses any longer. “The defense has got to come,” Hollins said. “We’ve had our moments. We’ve just got to be a little more consistent for longer spurts. It’s a growing process.”
New York comes into the game having won four consecutive games behind the scoring duo of Carmello Anthony and Amar’e Stoudamire and the defensive presence of Tyson Chandler. Last night the Knicks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers who had won their previous 6 games. They did it primarily with defense holding the 76ers to a mere 79 points. In their last three games the Knicks have given up only 82 PPG (against Detroit, Charlotte and Philadelphia).
The Knicks bench kicked in support as well. After scoring only 3 points in the Knicks win over Charlotte Monday night, the Knicks bench kicked in 21 points against the 76ers. However the starters are where the Knicks turn for offense. Carmello Anthony is 3rd in the league in scoring behind Kevin Durant and Dwayne Wade. Stoudamire is averaging 23 PPG and 10.8 RPG. Landry Fields, last season’s sensational rookie is struggling but his rookie PG Ian Shumpert has been a spark as well.
For Memphis to win they need to take advantage of New York’s tired legs and have a breakout game offensively especially from Rudy Gay who struggled in the 4th quarter against the Thunder. His 41.1% FG shooting is the lowest in his career. However Rudy has averaged 22 PPG against in six career starts against New York and Carmello Anthony is not a great defender. The Grizzlies will need a big game from Marc Gasol as well. Gasol has hit 20 points in 3 of the last 4 games while averaging 11.8 rebounds.
New York will want to continue their defensive play while using Amar’e Stoudamire to exploit the Grizzlies weakened PF position. Marreese Speights has shown an ability to score but his poor defensive execution, lax conditioning and weak rebounding numbers have made it difficult for the Grizzlies to play him long minutes. Dante Cunningham is very undersized against Stoudamire.
Prediction: The Grizzlies need this game more and should be fresher at the end. Grizzlies win.