When: Wednesday, November 13th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Well, that de-escalated quickly! After an inspired win against Golden State that gave the indication the Grizzlies were on the right track, Memphis came out extra-limp against the Pacers, losing 95-79 to a team that, quite frankly, looked a lot better. The Grizz will try to rebound against the Raptors, which means going up against a certain former Grizzly who was the center of a lot of debate last year. Getting a win against Rudy and the Raptors will be a great confidence boost, while losing will make a struggling team feel even more insecure. Make no mistake, this is a huge one for the Grizz.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Kyle Lowry
Guaranteed fun with this matchup. In 2009, the Grizzlies made the decision to go with Conley as their point guard of the future of Lowry. Both displayed potential at the time, and both have blossomed into quality NBA point guards. The thing with Lowry, however, is that he’s one of the streakier players in the league; he’ll have a stretch of games where he;ll like a potential All-Star, then he’ll be underwhelming for a two-week stretch. He does provide energy, however, and Conley’s job will be to contain. If Lowry is able to tap into his explosiveness, he’s one of the most dangerous players n the court. Still with Conley having a career year on offense, while displaying his usual reliability of the defensive end, the Grizzlies look pretty good here.
Tony Allen vs Demar Derozan
One of the biggest problems the Raptors have is that their two biggest scorers – DeRozan and Rudy Gay (more on him in a bit) are very similar players. Each are capable of filling up the score sheet, but they tend to do it in an efficient fashion, often shooting their team out of games. DeRozan will have a particularly difficult time getting shots off against the perimeter menace that is the Grindfather. It’s tough to think of new things to say about Tony Allen at this point. He’s not the best shooter in the world, but he’s great at everything else, and the city loves him for obvious reasons. Derozan is clearly the better offensive player, but Allen should be able to keep him in check.
Advantage: Toronto (barely)
Tayshaun Prince vs Rudy Gay
Definitely no intrigue in this one, right? Ok, here we go, Rudy finally makes his return to Memphis after the biggest trade since Pau went to the Lakers. Incidentally, just in case any Grizzlies fans re thinking about how much better the team would be doing if Rudy was still around, let’s remember that he went 11 for 37 from the field in Monday’s loss to the Rockets. He’s just as much of a chucker as he ever was,and while the points he puts up can help you win games at times, he’s often more trouble than he’s worth. With that said, Tayshaun Prince has been decidedly underwhelming this season, and while he’s still a strong defender, Rudy might be motivated for a revenge game. Look for him to shoot early and often, and just pray that he bricks most of them.
Amir Johnson has been an under-the-radar player pretty much his entire career. The advanced stats crowd is quite fond of him, but casual fans barely take notice. It’s a shame, because he’s a much more talented player than mst realize, and you have to think if he weren’t trapped in the oft-ignored Toronto market, he’d be a bigger deal. Meanwhile, Z-Bo looks to rebound after a relatively disappointing night against the Pacers. His dominating performance against the Warriors reminded us what he’s still capable of, and when he’s on, few power forwards are scarier.
Marc Gasol vs Jonas Valanciunas
Much like the Gasol-Drummond matchup in the home opener, this is the case of an established star going against a player with the potential that get on his level Make no mistake, Valanciunas is very good, and you’re going to be hearing a lot more about him over the next few months. Still, you have to go with the established player here. Valanciunas will get one of the biggest challenges of his young career against Marc tonight. if he holds his own, or has a big game, it will say a lot about where he’s headed.
Toronto has more solid bench players than you might think. Terrence Ross has a ton of skill, and it’s only a matter of time until he cracks the starting five (after DeRozan or Gay is traded). Tyler Hansbrough i shooting .559 from the field, and is an underrated backup big with a strong physical presence (even if MWP freaks him out a bit). Steve Novak has gotten off to a dreadful start, but once he heats up, he’ll go back to being one of the scariest three-point shooters in the league. On the other hand, their backup point guard is D.J. Augustin. Ew. As for the Grizz, Mike Miller is heating up, while Nick Calathes is finally getting some playing time. Oh, and Ed Davis goes against hi former team, too. Let’s see if he actually gets some minutes.