Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Boston Celtics
When: 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (46-22), Boston (36-32)
Media: SportSouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis was rolling having won two straight at home after a 2-2 difficult road trip. The Grizzlies had not lost three games in a row on the road all season. The team was in 3rd place in the conference by the slimmest of margins. They were playing against New Orleans, a team in the Western Conference cellar. The Grizzlies needed the win. Still somehow the Grizzlies lost for the 2nd time this season to one of the worst Western Conference teams badly damaging their home court playoff hopes.Memphis was unable to control the boards for one of the few times all season. The flat performance can’t be continued as the difficult month continues.
Boston has lost the first two games of their Midwest division tour having already lost to New Orleans and Dallas. The Celtics are currently in 7th place in the East and desperate for a win to salvage something from this trip. After all, Boston returns home to play the division leading New York Knicks in their next game. The Celtics aren’t big inside with Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce manning their front line. That is one reason the Celtics are ranked 29th in the league in rebounding. The Celtics do have experience who know how to stop long losing streaks. Rajon Rondo, the Celtics All-Star PG is injured and will not be playing in the game.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Avery Bradley
This could be the most important matchup of the night. Bradley, while not the offensive threat of Rondo, is considered one of the best defensemen in the league. Bradley excels at pressuring the ball and forcing turnovers. He is a capable scorer but not a great shooter hitting only 40.9% from the field. As Conley goes, so go the Grizzlies. At least most of the time. Conley had a strong game against New Orleans, especially in the 4th quarter but the Grizzlies weren’t able to follow him to the win. If Conley can handle the pressure and run the offense the Grizzlies size should make the difference but it isn’t easy getting past Bradley.
Tony Allen vs Courtney Lee
Courtney Lee was supposed to be a player the Grizzlies were interested in acquiring after the 2008 draft because of his offensive game. They were rumored again to be interested in him leading up to the trade deadline this past February. He hasn’t been acquired yet. As a starter this season Lee is averaging a respectable 47.3 FG% and 37.3 3pt% but is averaging only 9.0 PPG as a starter. Tony Allen has never been wanted for his offensive game but he is among the best defensive SGs in the league. Lee suffered an ankle injury in Dallas and may not be 100% as well.
Tayshaun Prince vs Paul Pierce
Prince has been struggling with his shot over the last 10 games hitting only 40.2% from the field. His defense, 6.3 RPG and 2.6 APG has made up for the lack of scoring however. Prince is very familiar with Pierce so he should be on top defensively. That is important too because Pierce has been making it his personal mission to get the Celtics back into the playoffs. Over the last 10 games the Celtic star has averaged 18.7 PPG on 51.5 FG% and thrown in 6.1 RPG and 5.8 APG a game over that span.
Zach Randolph vs Brandon Bass
Zach Randolph has not returned to his 2010-11 form but his 2012-13 form isn’t all bad. Over the last 10 games Randolph is averaging 16.0 PPG and grabbing 11.7 RPG while shooting 47.4% from the field. His scoring has dropped as Gasol and Conley have picked up their share but Z-Bo is still a dominant rebounder and keeps possessions alive on the offensive glass. Bass is physical but not physical enough to control a motivated Randolph.
Marc Gasol vs Kevin Garnett
KG has never been a full-time NBA center. The Hall of Fame player is coming to the end of his career but he is not going quietly. Averaging 14.5 PPG over the last 10 games while grabbing 7.8 RPG. Garnett is a strong defensive player as well. Garnett’s age is catching up to him and he can’t go extended minutes like he used to do. Gasol is entering his prime and has become the focus of the Grizzlies playoff run. Since the Rudy Gay trade Gasol has been fantastic putting up 16.9 PPG and 7.5 RPG as well as 3.9 APG. It’s not his offense that has improved so much. Defensively Gasol is getting mentioned as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Memphis’ bench has talent but has been struggling to perform except for Jerryd Bayless. Bayless has been on fire averaging 13.3 PPG and hitting 46.2% of his shots. Quincy Pondexter has been inconsistent, Ed Davis and Darrell Arthur are working on getting some chemistry together and rookie Tony Wroten has shown promise but is very rough. Boston’s bench has been led by Jason Terry but Jeff Green is starting to make some noise as well. Terry hasn’t been very hot in March (42.7 FG%) and it is possible that at 35 age is catching up to him. Jordan Crawford will likely play extended minutes but the Celtics bench has been hurt by injuries not only to Rondo but also Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Chris Wilcox and Terrence Williams have filled in some but aren’t answers.