"This time... It's personal!"
Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, the 2012-13 NBA season "officially" begins when our beloved Memphis Grizzlies take to the court against the Los Angeles Clippers in what is not only the season opener, but also a chance for the Grizzlies to get a bit of revenge against a Clippers team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year.
I know, a regular season victory won't do much in the way of erasing the past, but it would certainly be a nice start.
Let's take a look at the particulars for tonight:
|2012/2013 NBA Regular Season|
|October 31st, 2012, 9:30 PM|
|Mike Conley||PG||Chris Paul|
|Tony Allen||SG||Willie Green|
|Rudy Gay||SF||Caron Butler|
|Zach Randolph||PF||Blake Griffin|
|Marc Gasol||C||DeAndre Jordan|
|Advanced Stats (2011/2012)|
|90.8 (18th of 30)||Pace||89.2 (27th of 30)|
|104.0 (19th of 30)||ORtg||108.5 (4th of 30)|
|101.8 (7th of 30)||DRtg||105.7 (18th of 30)|
For the Grizzlies, as we know, we're down one Darrell Arthur, but other than a few bumps and bruises we're relatively healthy.
What I'm most interested to see tonight is how Lionel Hollins works in backcourt rotation. Obviously, the big question this offseason was about how we're going to replace O.J. Mayo, and the team seems to have a few answers for us. First, we'll try using Jerryd Bayless in sets with Mike Conley when Bayless isn't actually running the point. Then we'll see Wayne Ellington get a chance to act as the primary scorer off the bench. We'll also see if they believe enough in Josh Selby to make him a key part of the rotation.
Obviously, our need is in stretch offense. We were one of the worst three-point shooting teams last season, so there's going to be an emphasis on improving that mark.
Hopefully, Rudy Gay won't feel as if he needs to take on too much of a burden in becoming a 3-point threat -- please, Rudy, no more than two threes per game. Thanks.
Selby has shown a marked improvement in his long-range shooting, and boy did Mike Conley look great in the preseason with his 3-point shooting, going 12-of-17 from beyond the arc. Just an amazing improvement.
Tonight, what we want to look for isn't necessarily the raw numbers -- "oh, great, they went 6-of-15 from the 3-point line!" -- but the looks, the sets and who. Meaning, were they off-the-dribble, hand-in-your-face threes or did we get some nice rotational looks? Did Gay extend himself to shoot 5 threes or was it spread out based on who got better looks? Etc., and so on.
Defensively, I think we match up well with the Clippers. Both teams have size and athleticism, and we can counter their breaks with our own ability to retreat on defense, plus in halfcourt sets we can counter the Lobs with our presence in the paint.
What I am interested in seeing is how Conley matchups up with Chris Paul. Now that he's "bulked up," will he be able to use his muscle to get better positioning on Paul. I think we know that there's really no "easy way" to defend CP3, but I do think the bulk will help -- especially since the knock on Conley has always been, sure he's quick, but does he have the "size" to guard bigger points? Now, of course Paul isn't a bigger point guard, so what I'm interested in seeing is if Conley can turn his size into an advantage.
Lots of excitement going on around here! I'll be doing a live Google Hangout at 12-noon CT, 1:00 PM EST, with Clipper Steve over at Clips Nation. Be sure to check that out!
And, yes, GO GRIZZLIES! I can't tell you how happy I am that the season is finally here. Time to grit and grind...
For more on the Clippers: Clips Nation