We've got to win this one. Period. I mean, I'm not saying this is a "must win" game (there's a difference), but we don't want to start the season 1-4. And I say that, knowing full-well that Zach Randolph and Mike Conley are out. We'll once again see Jeremy Pargo running the point and Dante Cunningham at power forward. Now, if I told you weeks ago that just 5 games into the season we'd be seeing Pargo and Cunningham start for us, you'd probably never want to watch a Grizzlies game again. But, it is what it is.
And here we are, with a game we have to win. Without two starters. Ugh.
It appears as if the Kings will have DeMarcus Cousins available tonight, but I'm not so sure how much run he'll actually get. Our problem, of course will be low-post scoring. And to be honest, with J.J. Hickson in the paint, life's not going to get any easier. We're going to have to work Marc Gasol in order to get the perimeter game open. It's a must.
The outside game is going to live and die in O.J. Mayo's hands. We've seen early on Rudy Gay getting aggressive and driving to the hoop, which when coupled with Randolph and Gasol in the middle has worked "well," not great, in certain spots. The key again: jump shots! If Mayo can help to spread the floor (seeing as Tony Allen won't help all that much in that arena), we might be able to get a fluid half-court set going.
On the other side of the ball, we need to be able to run with the Kings. And we have to limit Marcus Thornton's open-look mid-rangers. He can single-handily kill us from the perimeter.
This game will come down to hustle, to a point as well. Chuck Hayes is going to give us fits because he's so active in the middle. He's not a great, efficient big, but he works so well with the size he has.
Defense. Jumpers. Limit turnovers. The song remains the same, doesn't it. But, tonight, without Z-Bo and Conley we're going to have to really grit and grind it out. That's the only way we can win this one.
Prediction: This is going to be a tough one. A close one. One that's likely going to come down to a key play/shot at the end of the game. The optimist in me wants to believe. And that's all I can do. Let's say this: Grizzlies 99, Kings 98.