Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Toronto Raptors
When: 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (4-3), Toronto (5-1)
Media: No TV, 680 AM, 92.9 FM
Forum: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis is looking to finish the pre-season with a winning record for the 3rd consecutive season but are likely to do so without their starting five seeing much if any action. Coach Hollins has been playing his starters slightly fewer minutes than normal in the most recent games but, after Tony Allen scared everyone when he twisted his ankle against Orlando, he is likely to be very cautious with his set rotation players in this game. That means longer minutes for Wayne Ellington, Tony Wroten, Josh Selby, Hamed Haddadi and especially Jerome Jordan. Jordan is the only player on the bubble to make the team so expect him to get a long look but the coaches tonight. This will be the 1st time Jerryd Bayless faces his old team as well.
Toronto has been on fire in the pre-season going 5-0 at home in amassing their pre-season record. The team is led by former Grizz Kyle Lowry who still has many fans in the city. Toronto, the only truly international team in the NBA has taken that uniqueness to heart with the pairing of former #1 pick in the draft Andrea Bargnani with this year’s #5 pick in the draft Jonas Valanciunas, the 6-11 Lithuanian who was voted the international player most likely to have a break out season by the league’s GMs. Valanciunas was widely considered to be the best player not in the NBA last season. The drafting of Valanciunas enables Bargnani to move to his more natural PF position. DeMar DeRozen and former Knick Landry Fields give the Raptors a 3 guard rotation which is also unique in the NBA.
What To Watch For:
Will any of the new owners be in attendance. I don’t mean to imply the game isn’t worth watching but the league just approved the sale of the Grizzlies to Robert Pera and his group which includes Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Peyton Manning and Penny Hardaway as well as Memphians Pitt Hyde, Staley Cates, Edward Dobbs and more. How many of them will be court side is unknown but people watching is back in vogue at Grizzlies games.
On the court pay special attention to Jerome Jordan. According to inside comments there is some disagreement from within the Grizzlies organization on whether or not to keep Jordan on the opening day roster, especially with Darrell Arthur still slowed by his injury. A strong game from the 7 footer will go a long way toward earning him a spot in the roster. Wayne Ellington started hitting shots against Orlando but needs to have another big game to ease the coaching staffs worries about his ability to back up Tony Allen at SG. Josh Selby and Tony Wroten have both battled nagging little injuries this pre-season which has slowed their development with the team but should be getting long looks tonight.
Toronto will likely play their starters more than Memphis but because, while pre-season games don’t mean anything in general, losing one or fewer games in the pre-season has a high correlation to making the playoffs. The international duo of Bargnani (Italy) and Valanciunas (Lithuania) against Gasol (Spain), Haddadi (Iran) and Jordan (Jamaica) will likely make this an interesting sidebar story to the game.