When: Wednesday, November 6th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
In case you missed it, yes. That absolutely horrifying creature pictured above is in fact a thing — and no, not just a Halloween thing. Meet Pierre, the new mascot of the New Orleans Pelicans. Fortunately for the children of Memphis, the Pellies will not be taking him on the road with them to the Grindhouse tonight, as they travel from New Orleans fresh off of a disheartening loss at the hands of a hot shooting Phoenix Suns squad last night. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, are in the middle of enjoying their first three game homestand of this young season, after a herky-jerky victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Jrue Holiday
Coming off an all-star breakout campaign in what was a lost season for the Philadelphia 76ers last year, many expected Jrue Holiday to return back to earth, playing for a presumably competitive team with a number of talented pieces surrounding him. Four games is entirely too early to tell, but Holiday has been up and down, struggling at times with turnover issues. Conley has been darn good thus far, and though he may struggle with Holiday’s size (6’4), advantage goes to the home team on a day’s rest.
Tony Allen vs Eric Gordon
I’ve got Eric Gordon locked up in one of my fantasy leagues, but even if I didn’t, I’d probably cringe every time he leaves the ground, given his history as an injury waiting to happen. When he has the chance to find a rhythm and get it going, Gordon is as talented as they come on the perimeter. However, lacking great size at the position, he’s not the type of matchup that Tony Allen struggles to contain. In his three matchups with the Grindfather last season, Gordon was held to 10 points per game — 7 less than his season average. Allen’s riding high after his fourth quarter hustle helped guide the Grizzlies to victory over his former team.
Tayshaun Prince vs Al-Farouq Aminu
Age aside, Tayshaun Prince and Al-Farouq Aminu profile as very similar players at the small forward position. They’re both tall, rangy, and defensively inclined. Grizzly fans may thing that Prince is gun-shy outside of the paint, but Aminu’s numbers argue that we’ve seen nothing yet. A negligible 3.99% of Aminu’s shot attempts came from beyond the arc last season, while 67.51% were in the restricted area. To contrast, 11.59% of Prince’s attempts were distributed from three, with 37.20% in the restricted area.
Zach Randolph vs Anthony Davis
A rash of injuries disturbed the otherwise promising rookie season of Anthony Davis, but this season he’s all systems go. Davis has looked every bit the monster that he was anticipated to be when the Pelicans made him the number one selection in the 2012 Draft. Just look at his line from Saturday night against the Bobcats: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 blocks and 6 steals! Me oh my, there’s another beastly post player in the southwest division. Zbo’s going to getting more comfortable in Joerger’s schemes, but Davis has just been playing out of his mind.
Advantage: New Orleans
Marc Gasol vs Jason Smith
My natural response is to scoff at this matchup. I mean, Marc’s our Grizzlies’ franchise center, while Jason Smith’s a glorified journeyman, right? In reality, though, he’s much more than that to this young Pelicans team. Smith is looked to on this team as a stable contributor and a leader in the locker room. Last season he averaged 15 points and 3.5 blocks in two contests against the Grizzlies. He’s got a deadly jump shot from just about anywhere inside the arc. Marc is obviously the better player, but it’s certainly not the landslide that the billing suggests.
Luckily for the Grizzlies, Pelicans gunner Ryan Anderson is still not ready for action, while nursing a chip fracture in his toe, but the opposing bench is still formidable. It is stocked in the backcourt, headlined by U of Memphis product Tyreke Evans, and supported by the quietly effective Brian Roberts and determined-to-put-last-year-in-the-past Austin Rivers. The Grizzlies bench has been, and will continue to be, up and down thus far, but to be fair is their only real hope of getting things cooking from the perimeter. Jerryd Bayless, specifically, won the game for the Grizz on Monday night, sinking 15 points in remarkable fashion in the final period.