When: Wednesday, November 27th, 7:30 PM CST
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Seems so long ago that the Grizzlies were riding the high of a four game winning streak spanning an unforgiving west coast road trip, doesn’t it? Today marks a week since the last feel-good game of the streak occurred when the Grizz took down the Steph Curry-less Golden State Warriors. The Grizz have since lost cornerstone big man Marc Gasol and dropped two straight. They put up a good fight for three quarters against Houston last time out, only to have an 8 point lead evaporate at the hands of a fourth period in which they were grossly outclassed, yielding 38 points. Sorely in need of a win, the good guys head up to Boston to face a Celtics team that has been a streaky 6-6 since these teams last met.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Avery Bradley
Mike Conley did not shoot the ball whatsoever in Monday’s loss, but he was still able to put a positive footprint on the game through his facilitation, evidenced by the 10 assist, +7 line. With Gasol out, increased pressure is put on Conley to initiate all of the ball movement, as the team cannot rely on working the ball through the elbow to get things going. The mounting pressure for Mike to do more on the offensive end could actually stifle his scoring ability in the upcoming stretch, as the team is left to wonder where the extra creativity will be coming from. Avery Bradley generally assumes the off-guard duties for the Celtics, but being the defensive menace that he is, will likely be on the hip of Conley for the night.
Tony Allen vs Jordan Crawford
TA was a master thief against the Rockets on Monday amassing a total of 6 steals, but a portion of them were counter-balanced by his 4 turnovers. Jordan Crawford is a gunner who is not shy to take some risks on the basketball court, and could be anywhere between a flamethrower or a points-per-possession nightmare on any given night. With the game’s best perimeter defender locked on him tonight, I’m going to bet the latter.
Tayshaun Prince vs Jeff Green
Tayshaun Prince is coming off of far and away his best performance of the season, as he shot 7-10 from the field, even connecting on a 3 point attempt against the Rockets. I believe that Prince is still slowly working himself back into game shape after a rough transition into the season, to where we will be able to expect some more consistency. The Grizzlies are going to need him in a big way as a secondary facilitator in the perimeter and high-post, to help alleviate some of the play-making burden off of Conley’s shoulders, and allow him to work off the ball as a scorer a bit. Prince is running into a tough match tonight, in Jeff Green, who dropped 22 on the Grizzlies last time out, recording 9 of which from the charity stripe.
Zach Randolph vs Brandon Bass
The Zach-attack cooled off in Houston without having Gasol to spread the defense at the high-post and take pressure off him, with just 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 turnovers. I’d expect him to get back to form against Brandon Bass tonight, whose rebounding numbers have been an atrocity to start the season.
Kosta Koufos vs Jared Sullinger
Jared Sullinger may be criminally undersized for the center position, but that hasn’t stopped him from producing for the Celtics with Kelly Olynyk on the shelf. In the four games since he has been input into the starting lineup, the Ohio State product is averaging 13 points and 9.8 boards, and as Tom Westerholm of Celtics Hub points out, he has been able to hold his own on the defensive end by cutting down on his fouls. On the flip side, Kosta Koufos was impressive in his first game as a Grizzly starter in the absence of Gasol, as he put up a rock-steady 8 point 13 rebound 2 block line against Dwight Howard and the Rockets. While Sully has been good, I’m putting my money on the seven-footer.
If there was ever a Grizzly that needed a boost, it would be Jerryd Bayless. Conveniently, if there was ever a matchup that offered the promise of giving him just that, it’s the Boston Celtics. Bayless is in an undeniable funk, having been held to single-digit scoring outputs and single game shooting percentages of 33% and well below since, well, his 15 points on 55% shooting in the Grizzlies’ previous duel with the C’s. In fact, last season he had himself a game against them as well, going off for 30 points at a 55% clip on March 23rd. The Celtics’ bench has actually been putting up decent production by committee, most recently with Gerald Wallace and Courtney Lee chipping in 17 and 11 respectively in Monday’s win over the Bobcats.