When: Wednesday, October 9th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
After a disappointing performance in the preseason opener against the Bulls on Monday, the Grizzlies look to get in the groove against the Mavericks, a team that has drastically altered its starting five for a second straight season. It’s hard to gain a great deal of knowledge about a team from how it performs in the preseason – you rarely have the entire starting lineup playing, and there’s a lot of guys getting minutes now who will struggle for ny playing time when the season starts, along with a few more who won’t even make the roster. Still, after struggling in the opening game of the Dave Joerger era, the Grizzlies should be motivated to get things on track in front of the home crowd. As Matthew stated in his recap of Monday’s game, Ed Davis struggled a great deal on one-on-one defense. So, considering that Davis is considered to be the greatest asset acquired by the Grizzlies in the Rudy Gay trade, we can only hope he’ll have a stronger showing tonight. He might get a huge test if he gets the chance to go against Dirk Nowitzki, one of the greatest power forwards of all-time, and one of the hardest players to guard in the NBA. If Davis gets the chance to go against Dirk, and can keep him from getting too many open looks, well all feel a little bit better. Meanwhile, Kosta Koufos is getting adjusted to his role as the backup center, and the reports are that he’s been a rebounding machine. Koufos and Marc Gasol could be the best center duo in the league. Hopefully we’ll get a nice preview of that tonight.
Last year was a rather disappointing campaign for the Mavs – they missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade, and their starting five struggled to gel all season long. Darren Collison’s struggles as the starting point guard become such an issue that the team actually replaced him with Mike James. No, seriously. Now, though, the Mavs look to reassert themselves as one of the scarier teams in the West with a brand new backcourt. Collison and former Grizzly O.J. Mayo are out the door in favor of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis. Calderon is one of the more underrated point guards int he game, as he is an excellent shooter (albeit a low-volume one), and one of the better distributors in the league. He’ll be teamed up with Monta Ellis, who is not the most efficient player around, but can put points on the board nonetheless. Teaming up a smart, pass-first point guard with a high-usage rate player like Ellis might prove to be a very strong combination. Ellis shot the ball at a weak .416 clip last season, but that’s when he was playing with Brandon Jennings, a guard who shares many of Ellis’s best and worst tendencies. With Calderon around to set him up, Ellis could get a much better shot selection than he did last year. Of course, tonight, that backcourt will have to develop chemistry against the brutal defense of Tony Allen and Mike Conley, so don’t expect perfection right away. Then, there’s Dirk. No. 41 missed a lot of time early in the season, and when he returned, it took him awhile to get his groove back. Still, by season’s end, he was playing some of his best basketball in years. If he can thrive against the Grizzlies brutal frontcourt D it’ll be a sign that he’s truly back to his old self. There are a fair amount of questions surrounding the Mavs, and the West is too deep to consider them a favorite. Still, there upside is very high, and if chemistry develops between the new guys and the seasoned vets, this could be a very dangerous team in 2013-14.
Be sure to keep tabs on:
- Nick Calathes. The Grizzlies are still looking for the ideal backup point guard, and with Jerryd Bayless looking far more comfortable in the 2-guard spot, Calathes appears to be their man going forward. Will he thrive as the backup 1, and perhaps emerge as a darkhorse ROy candidate, or will he remind fans of Jeremy Pargo and Josh Selby? This is where we start to find out.
- Playing time at the small forward spot. With Tayshaun Prince, Quincy Pondexter, and Mike Miller, the Grizzlies have three capable small forwards in their ranks. And one of them will likely struggle for playing time. It’s difficult to see Qpon not getting minutes after his performance in the playoffs, so well either the Joerger try hi at the 2-guard spot, or it’ll be a battle for minutes between Miller and Prince, both of whom are well past their prime.
- What can Jamaal Franklin do? Considering the immense depth this team has already, it’s hard to picture Franklin being a rotation player as a rookie. Still, if he outplays the vets, Joerger may had no choice but to give him a shot. He was a bit nervous against the Bulls, but perhaps he can put on a strong showing in front of the home fans.
The Two Man Game