When: Saturday, November 2nd, 7:30 PM CST
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Can we call it a rematch of sorts, since the Grizzlies and Mavs technically already played each other in the preseason? No? Alright, fair enough. The preseason meeting was uglier than a grand majority of the Halloween costumes I came across on Thursday night — save maybe a handful of the zombies. It took a breakout Jon Leuer and a fourth quarter rally to carry the Grizzlies to the respectability of a five point loss. But again, yes — preseason. Coming into this game, the grit n’ grinders look to ride the momentum of last night’s overtime nail biter to carry them through their first back-to-back of the season.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Jose Calderon:
Jose, Jose, Jose. It’s interesting that Calderon inked himself in Dallas blue this offseason, as the Mavericks were the team that the Grizz intended to re-route him to as part of the Rudy Gay three-way trade, in the first place. Calderon is the pure-passing point guard that the Mavs lacked all of last season after Jason Kidd’s departure to New York vacated the post. If there was ever a matchup in which Mike Conley should look to exploit his quickness, this would be it, as Calderon is far from the fleet of foot on the defensive end.
Tony Allen vs Monta Ellis:
Monta Ellis is another newbie to the Dallas formula, as the Mavs opted to fill his bank account after striking out on Dwight Howard and some of the other preferred opions on the free agent market. Monta kicked off his Mavs career with an absolute bang, compiling one of the strongest lines of the night as most teams opened the season on Wednesday, logging 32 points and 8 assists accompanied by 65% shooting against the Hawks. In two bouts against Tony Allen and the Grizzlies last season, Ellis shot a combined 18.8% on 16 field goal attempts per game. Will the Grindfather continue to hold him down?
Tayshaun Prince vs Shawn Marion:
Shawn Marion is the lone-standing member alongside Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavs’ championship roster, and he’s stuck around for good reason. His shooting ability (and form) may be less than optimal, but he’s the type of player who brings his hard hat to work and does just about everything right. The same can basically be said of Tayshaun Prince, but on a team like the Grizzlies the margin for error in terms of shooting performance from the small forward position is infintessimaly slim, given the team’s all-around lack of marksmanship.
Zach Randolph vs Dirk Nowitzki:
Historically speaking, the battle between these marquee power forwards has been a big ticket, and while some of the luster has worn off, a compelling showdown between the two will never be entirely out of the cards. While Zach has had some major outbursts against the Mavericks in the past, he is still in the process of figuring out where he stands in the new motion offense. Dirk, on the other hand is still firmly entrenched in the role that he has always held as an offensive maven.
Marc Gasol vs Samuel Dalembert:
Sam Dalembert is the newest installment in a long line of defensive anchors to be paired up with Nowitzki on the Mavericks’ frontline. Like Erick Dampier, DeSagana Diop, Tyson Chandler, and Brendan Haywood before him, Dalembert offers help off on guard penetration and does a bit of work on the glass, but offers a considerably lesser impact on the other end of the floor. Marc Gasol is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and has a major impact on the other end as well.
In the point guard battle, I briefly alluded to the Rudy trade — you know, the one that brought Prince to Memphis. Well rumor has it that the target of the prospective deal was none other than Dallas’s sixth man, Vince Carter. Not to knock Tayshaun, but wouldn’t that have been nice? Few have made as graceful a transition from NBA star to valued role player as the transformation of Carter. He posted a PER upwards of 17 last season, and came out swinging to start this year as well. Other than Carter, the Mavs feature the uninspiring likes of Brendan Wright, Gal Mekel, Dejuan Blair, and Wayne Ellington on their second unit. Stay tuned for a possible battle between Mekel and Nick Calathes, as it was Mekel’s emergence that enabled the Mavs to send the Greek point guard our way. While the Grizzlies bench is deeper than it has been in recent years, Carter’s presence pushes the needle in Dallas’s favor.