Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Brooklyn Nets
When: Friday, January 25th, 7:00PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (27-14), Brooklyn (26-16)
Media: Sportsouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Boards
Memphis has endured a bit of upheaval in the past week, after dealing out nearly half of its bench to Cleveland for some much needed cap relief. Of the bench that the Grizzlies figure to trot out for the near future, only Jerryd Bayless remains from the regular rotation of the 12-2 start. The remaining bodies on the Grizzlies’ bench seemed jolted by the appreciation of their roles in their first game post-trade. Darrell Arthur was the hands down hero of the game with a 20 point 9 rebound performance, while Bayless looked far more confident shooting the ball from the two spot, Hamed Haddadi was active on the glass, and the man of the hour, Tony Wroten chipped in 9 exhilarating points to go along with one huge chase-down block. Granted it all came against a dead-in-the-water looking Lakers team, the Grizz cannot expect that level of production out of the bench on a nightly basis, but if they can manage to give some semblance of consistent performance, it will pay off dividends for the team’s bottom line.
Brooklyn has had itself quite the up and down season up until this point. The new-look Nets started things off as one of the hottest teams in the game as they got off to an 11-4 start, and Avery Johnson hauled in Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honors for his team’s performance. Then December happened. The Nets lost ten of their next thirteen games, falling back to .500, before deciding to part ways with the hard-headed Johnson, and promoting assistant, P.J. Carlesimo to the interim gig. Now, the team has gone a resounding 12-2 (those numbers sound familiar?), with the only losses coming on the road against San Antonio and Atlanta since he took over. This isn’t Coach Carlesimo’s first rodeo, and he’s got the Nets playing some excellent basketball of late, and this article from the TrueHoop home site notes that their efficiency numbers are up across the board. A key to look out for in this one is the size of the Brooklyn Nets’ backcourt, which can surely serve as a detriment to the Grizzlies’ hopes of coming out ahead tonight.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Deron Williams:
With regards to the heightened efficiency of the Brooklyn Nets, specifically the numbers of Deron Williams have skyrocketed under Carlesimo. Since Carlesimo’s first game leading from the sidelines, Deron’s shooting percentage and three point shooting percentage are up from 39.8 and 29.5, respectively, to well into the 40’s. Physically, there’s no way that Mike Conley can hold him, so the Grizzlies will have to be crafty to try and keep Williams out on the perimeter.
Tony Allen vs Joe Johnson:
According to Beckley Mason of Hoopspeak, when Joe Johnson is on the bench, the Nets average a meager 97 points per 100 posessions, but when he plays, they’re among the tops in the league in the metric. While this is to some extent an unfair comparison to make, Johnson possesses a Carmelo Anthony-lite ability to hit a circus shot from anywhere on the court that he so chooses. His size is also drastically underrated, at 6’7 240 pounds. Tony Allen has his hands full.
Rudy Gay vs Gerald Wallace:
Gerald Wallace is no longer the Gerald Wallace that we have come to know from the “Crash” days, but that is not to say that he has gone soft. He may not put his body on the line anymore to the extent that we are used to, but you can be rest assured that he’s going to make Rudy Gay work for every basket tonight. Wallace is not a threat as a scorer, as he has notched double figures only once in the Carlesimo era, but his willingness and capabilities as a passer and defensive force will make him a nightmare matchup regardless.
Zach Randolph vs Reggie Evans:
Speaking of nightmare matchups, does anybody remember the Clippers series last year? Yes, it’s that Reggie Evans, who stole the starting gig from Kris Humphries as a high-octane energy guy and all-around monster on the glass. Last year he was absolute Kryptonite to our front line, so a healthy Zach Randolph’s ability to redeem himself against Evans will be paramount against the Nets. Let’s hope Mr. Randolph, named an all-star last night, sets out to prove the coaches right tonight.
Marc Gasol vs Brook Lopez:
*Matchup of the night* – In a move that raised the eyebrows of some, after missing the vast majority of last season, Brook Lopez inked himself to a max contract with the Nets. He’s proven to be a worthy keep with his play this season, as he has fully established himself as the go to scorer in the post, but moreover has recommited himself on the defensive end as an anchor in the paint. Lopez is averaging a career high 2.1 blocks per game this year. All of this being said, Marc Gasol is every bit as long, strong, and skilled as he is, which is something Brook is not used to dealing with inside.
How about the emergance, or re-emergance I should say, of Andray Blatche this season? He glided into the starting role admirably as he filled in for Brook Lopez in an injury absence earlier in the year, and has been an incredible piece for them on the bench. Blatche currently sits at ninth in the league with a player efficiency rating of 23.18, and is second to only his teammate Lopez among non-all-stars. He’s joined on the Brooklyn bench by explosive scorer Marshon Brooks, scoring guard C.J. Watson, stretch four Mirza Teletovic, and the always-steady Keith Bogans. The Grizzlies bench was unbelievable against Los Angeles, but until proven otherwise, it remains to be seen whether or not this unit can keep up its productivity with any degree of consistency. For the Grizzlies’ sake, I sure hope so.
The Brooklyn Game