Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Real Madrid Whites
When: October 6, 2012 – 7:00 PM (CST)
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (0-0), Real Madrid (2-0)
Memphis kicks off their 2012-13 NBA pre-season schedule with a visit from international powerhouse Real Madrid at the Forum tonight. The Grizzlies will likely start the same five players that have been the backbone of the team’s success the last two years with Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay manning the frontline with Tony Allen and Mike Conley in the backcourt. However, this is not to imply this is the same team that lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs last season. O J Mayo no longer is the sixth man as he signed a free agent contract in the off-season with division rival Dallas. Also gone is fan favorite Dante Cunningham via a trade for SG Wayne Ellington. New to the team are Ellington, Point Guard Jerryd Bayless and Combo Guard Tony Wroten Jr. Bayless blossomed into a legitimate NBA player last season in Toronto averaging 11.4 PPG and hitting 42% of his 3 point attempts for the Raptors.
Real Madrid brings their team to the states to play two NBA teams for the first time. This will be the 5th time in their history Real Madrid has played NBA teams. They have a 1-3 mark in those games. Real Madrid lost to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in 1988, lost to the Phoenix Suns in 1993 and lost to the Utah Jazz in 2009. Their lone victory came in 2007 against the Toronto Raptors. Real Madrid has former NBA players Sergio Rodriquez and Rudy Fernandez on their team as well as Felipe Reyes and Sergio Llull, both Spanish national team members who played against the USA in London this summer. Real Madrid has two players with NCAA experience as well. Jaycee Carroll played at Utah State where he was known as a deadly shooter. He was on the “Ideal 5” list of players in the Spanish league in 2010-11 and is known to be a very good rebounder for a shooting guard. Marcus Slaughter played at San Diego State and is known as being a defensive presence inside for his positioning, hustle and shot-blockng ability.
What to Watch: Pre-season games like this are particularly dangerous. “Our level of motivation in the games in the USA will be very high even though they are in pre-season. Real Madrid have to prove things every day.” said coach Pablo Laso. He went on to say “I have quality players who can make the most of any situation.”
Most NBA teams tend to experiment during early pre-season games preferring to see what the newer members of the team can do particularly players such as Tony Wroten and Josh Selby who played extremely well in Las Vegas during the summer league. However, for Real Madrid, this is a statement game. Expect the Grizzlies to not push Randolph, Gasol or Rudy Gay for extended minutes in this game as the team lets Marreese Speights and Hamed Haddadi get some burn. Haddadi has recovered slowly from off-season wrist surgery but is cleared for full contact now. Tony Allen also had off-season surgery but is believed to be at full strength. However, neither Allen nor Conley is expected to log long minutes in this game.
A victory against an NBA team on American soil would be a huge accomplishment not just for the team or for Spain but for the whole continent of Europe who would like nothing more than to see one of their own beat an NBA team. Adding to that fire for the Spaniards will likely be Rudy Fernandez who never felt he got a legitimate opportunity in the NBA to show his skill. The fiery Spaniard, known as a long-range threat, would like nothing more than to show the league their mistake in this game. Sergio Llull will test Mike Conley just as he did the USA in the Gold Medal game in London. Nicola Mirotic is a developing power forward who scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in their last game.