Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Toronto Raptors
When: 7:00 pm CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis Tn.
Records: Memphis Grizzlies (24-17), Toronto Raptors (14-29)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Toronto – Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson
Memphis says hello to both Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph tonight after saying good-bye to Sam Young yesterday. The Grizzlies did not say good-bye to O J Mayo which may have surprised a few fans.
The Grizzlies have played above expectations since Z-Bo went out with a partially torn MCL on New Year’s Day but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t better with Z-Bo in the lineup. However don’t expect Z-Bo to return to the starting lineup or dominate in the paint like he did at this point last season. It will take a while to get his timing and conditioning back but the Grizzlies fans will likely not care about such trivial things when he steps onto the court tonight.
The Sam Young trade was a clear and simple salary dump and an intelligent one if both Rudy Gay and Quincy Pondexter remain healthy but may be a disaster if either player stumbles in the final weeks of the season. Rumors have been swirling that the team is seriously interested in Gilbert Arenas but nothing yet has happened in that respect.
Toronto comes to Memphis in the midst of a five game road trip and minus a lot of their backcourt. Starting PG Jose Calderon is day-to-day with a sprained ankle but is not expected to play tonight. Backup scoring PG Leandro Barbosa was traded to Indiana yesterday and Anthony Carter was waived so their back-court is very thin.
Their front line is healthy and dangerous however. Former top pick Andrea Bargnani is playing his fifth game after returning from injury. Bargnani has averaged 21.2 ppg on the road this season. James Johnson , the team leader in blocks and steals, has averaged double figures in scoring since becoming a starter and Amir Johnson is so athletic.
It’s the Raptors bench that has the front office optimistic. Linas Kleiza, Ed Davis and Gary Forbes are promising young players especially Davis. The former UNC star brings length and defensive presence to the paint and, when paired with Bargnani, can be a match-up nightmare for most teams.
Prediction: The Grizzlies are coming off a tough loss but know the importance of this game. Grizzlies win.