When: Monday, November 4th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Ok, so the Grizzlies have been a bit of a bummer this season, starting just 1-2, but it’s safe to say they’re in much better shape than the Celtics. It’s not just that the Celts haven’t won a game yet, they’re also going through a huge comedown – one that can’t be easy on the fanbase. With the original Big 3 gone, and Rondo still hurt, Boston is playing with a slew on unfamiliar faces, and they figure to be in for a long year. With that in mind, the Grizzlies will look to rebound against a franchise who might be entering one of their darker periods.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Avery Bradley:
Mike’s been killin’ it, huh? I mean, as disappointing as the first few Grizzlies games have been, it’s certainly been encouraging to see Conley take on a larger role in the offense. Going into their first full season without Rudy Gay, one of the big questions facing this Grzzlies team has been whether or not Conley can be a main scoring option on a consistent basis. So far, the answer has been a resounding yes, as he has topped 20 points in each of the last 20 games, and has generated point for the Grizzlies when the offense has looked completely dead. On the other side, with Rajon rando sill recovering, Avery Bradley gets the start once again. Bradley is the sort of player who numbers can’t really describe. look at the raw stats, and you’d assume he’s one of the worst guards in the league – he can’t hoot, and he doesn’t generate assists. But the fact is, the man is an absolute beast on defense, proably the second best perimeterD in the eague after Ol’ What’s His Name (more on him in a second). Conley will have a relatively easy defensive assgnment tonight, bu if he want to have another big night on the scoreboard, he’s going to have his work cut out for him. Bradley is an absolute menace on defense.
Tony Allen vs Jeff Green:
Wait, what? Jeff Green is a shooting guard now? Umm..yeah, things are weird in Boston. If the situation seems confusing to you, just ask yourself, would you want to throw Jordan Crawford or Marshon Brooks into your starting five? Yeah, me neither. So, Green is a temporary solution, and it needs to be said, he’s an excellent scorer. If his early years in Boston were underwhelming, he’s turned things around considerably recently, showing proof positive that he works as a starter in this league. Allen will either be overwhelmed by his size, or hell thrive due to his lack of speed. In any event, Green is not a player to sleep on. yes, he’s playing out of position, but he has enough natural talent to overcome that. look for this to be the most entertaining position battle of the night.
Tayshaun Prince vs Gerald Wallace:
Crash! I’m the last splash. Okay, both these guys are considerably past their primes, and yet you could still see either of them playing decent minutes for a contender if the situation was right. Prince has yet to make a great deal of impact so far, playing just 57 minutes in three games. Even though he’s the starter – for now – you could make a case that Prince is the least important small forward in the Grizzlies rotation. Quincy Pondexter – who the Grizzlies just locked up on a 4-year deal – and Mike Miller have spent more time on the court than Prince so far, and if this team is around in the playoffs, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think both of them could wind up laying bigger roles. Meanwhile, Wallace figures to be a key player for the Celtics this year. While his raw skills have deteriorated, he can still drive to the basket, and on a team sorely in need of leadership he could become the emotional core of the team. He’s not what he sued to be, but he can still a big help to a team looking for someone to take charge.
Okay, so maybe times have been rough for the Grizz latlely, but on a happy note, it looks like Z-Bo is starting to get his groove back. The double-double machine has looked like his old self in the last two games, and after the perpetual nightmare that was the Suprs series (and game 1 against the Spurs), he seems to have emerged no worse for fear. This is one of the more lopsided position duels of the evening, as Randolph goes against Brandon Bass, a player who is perfectly functional, and can heat up from time-to-time, but will never be confused for an All-Star. Essentially, Bass is the perfect starting 4 for this rebuilding Celtics team – a credible starter who can put up decent numbers, but hardly a threat to fill up the stat sheet on a nightly basis. He’s just holding the fort down until a better option comes along, and everyone in Boston knows it.
Marc Gasol vs Vitor Faverani:
The rookie sensation? It’s funny how things work out in the NBA, huh? The whole offseason, we wondered who would start at center for the Celtics, who are still sorely lacking in big men. It turned out the answer was a guy who only the most serious basketball fans had even heard of (full disclosure – I hadn’t). Faverani was the lone bright spot in the Celtics collapse against Milwaukee on Friday, putting up a stunning line of 12 points, 18 rebounds ad six blocks. The Celtics are a team in transition to say the least, but the discovery of Faverani should easy the pain, assuming he can keep being a solid contributor. With that said, tonight will be rather difficult for Faverani, as he goes against arguably the best center in the NBA in Marc Gasol. It’s a bit boring to talk about all the things that make Gasol great – his defense, his passing, his mid-range shot – but the fact is, it’s just hard for any opposing player to outlast this guy. If Faverani forces Gasol into a bad game, he’s got some serious chops.
It sure would be great if Nick Calathes could get some actual playing time, and maybe show us something, huh? Maybe he is the answer to the Grizzlies backup point guard problem, but to this point, he’s hardly had much of a chance to show it. Still, the Grizzlies have a fairly strong bench, with Jerryd Bayless ranking among the better third guards in the league, while Pondexter and Miller can both drain the three ball all day. We already talked about Crawford and brooks for the Celtics – inefficient shooters who nonetheless can be quite scary when they heat up. As for the big man matchup, no one would deny that Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk each have a lot of potential, but I doubt anyone would take them over Ed Davis and Kosta Koufos. Both teams have reasonably solid benches, but the Grizz are a considerably deeper team.