Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Philadelphia 76ers
When: Monday, January 28th, 6:00 PM CST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Records: Memphis (28-15), Philadelphia (18-25)
Media: SportSouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis lost an ugly one last night against the soon-to-be Pelicans. And no, it was not the friendly brand of ugly: the one that falls under the umbrella of Grit n’ Grind. The game was just plain ugly. Mike Conley left the game with a rolled ankle early in the first quarter, and the offense could not recover from the loss of its initiator. The Grizzlies offense shot 36.4% from the field, 18.8% from the arc, and missed bunny after bunny around the basket. The good news? A shot at redemption is right around the corner, as they play Philadelphia tonight in the second half of the back-to-back. The bad news? They play again tonight. The Grizz are going to have to put up a strong showing, because a loss has them taking a two game skid on the road into OKC, a contest in which they’ll need all the momentum they can get.
Philadelphia has not been having a great stretch since the advent of 2013, but is coming off a very strong outing against the Knicks. The Sixers have gone 4-8 since New Year’s Day, having won against the Lakers, Rockets, Raptors, and as mentioned, the Knicks. The last time they faced the Grizzlies, our Beale St. Bears were without their leading scorer, Rudy Gay, and the Sixers were propelled to victory by a nasty 28 point showing by swingman sharpshooter, Dorell Wright. Going to the numbers, much like the Grizzlies, the Sixers rank in the bottom third in the league, when it comes to points per game (93.7) and offensive efficiency (99.6), but unlike the Grizzlies, their middle of the pack defense is not quite good enough to make up the difference.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Jrue Holiday:
*Matchup of the night* - Mike Conley is said to be set to go for this one, and the Grizz are going to need him against first time and much deserving All-Star, Jrue Holiday. Holiday is having a monster season, entering his name into the hat of the conversation of elite point guards in the NBA. He’s got a continuously rising scoring average, that’s flirting with rounding up to 20 a game, while putting up nearly 9 assists a night, en route to a PER of 19.38 on the season. Even a healthy Mike Conley would have a tough time matching the 6’4 and skilled Holiday, tonight.
Tony Allen vs Nick Young:
Much like Dorell Wright was a monster in the last meeting between these two teams, Nick Young has been an animal in his past two games. He followed up a 20 point night against Milwaukee with a starting nod against the Knicks, Saturday. His response? He dropped another 20 on them. Young is a streaky shooter, and a momentum player, which should likely fall in his favor heading into this one. I’m having flashbacks of what he did to our Grizzlies in the playoffs last year. All of this being said, there might not be a defensive stopper in the league like Tony Allen. Even on the latter half of a back-to-back, I believe in TA’s defense.
Rudy Gay vs Evan Turner:
Rudy Gay is in an ice cold funk right now. You know how when it’s really cold outside, you can see your breath? At this point, it’s likely to be the case if you stand near Rudy right now. He’s visibly frustrated, as he has been held below 40% shooting by the opposition in what has now been five straight games, and his scoring average has plummeted to nearly 17 a game on the year. He offered us that great quote about making your own luck last year, but maybe it really is the headband. I have faith in Rudy to turn it around soon, but I’m not sure a matchup against Evan Turner will be the right one to snap him out of it. Turner has been hot in his own right, averaging 20.3 over his past three games, to go along with an average of 8 rebounds and nearly 6 assists in the span.
Zach Randolph vs Thaddeus Young:
Just about every time I talk about Thaddeus Young, I make the same distinction. Forgive me for being repetitive and unoriginal, but I’m going to go there again. When I watch Thaddeus Young play, I think to myself that he’s essentially Dante Cunningham with more natural basketball ability. Speaking of natural talent, that’s never been Zach Randolph’s calling card, but the All-Star forward continues to get it done. Last night, he lived up to his “Mr. 20/10″ reputation, with a 20/13 performance.
Marc Gasol vs Spencer Hawes:
Spencer Hawes is a pretty decent big man, but overall is not all that much to write home about. He has a decent post game, good hands, good passing ability, and above average outside shot for a guy of his stature. Marc had a phenomenal first half against the Nets, making his case as a top all-star snub in the West. Last night, he posted a 14 and 11 double double to go along with 3 assists and 3 blocks, but shot an underwhelming percentage on the night (5-14).
Let me start off by talking about Jerryd Bayless. First off, man he looks different without hair. Secondly, and far more importantly, he’s taken a lot of heat this year, but his play of late has been a great service to the team. Prior to the trade of Ellington and Speights, J-Bay had found himself in double figures scoring a total of three times on the season. In the three games since the trade, he’s scored double figures in all three. In addition, he’s stepped up in finding ways to affect the game outside of scoring the ball, as he chalked up 8 assists and 7 rebounds against the Nets, while taking away three steals from the Hornets last night. It appears as though he has been freed up a bit by Tony Wroten allowing him to play off the ball some. Outside of Bayless, Tony Wroten has come back to Earth, but has provided a nice jolt, where D-League call-up has shown a willingness to let it fly from the arc, with the ability to sink it from time to time. Then of course, Darrell Arthur is Darrell Arthur. The Sixers bench possesses Grizzly killer, Dorell Wright, but he has seen his minutes decline, and fell victim to a “DNP: Coach’s Decision” in their last game. Besides him, their bench is comprised of somewhat uninspiring options, journeymen Damian Wilkins and Royal Ivey, and inconsistent big man, Lavoy Allen. I don’t say this very often, but: