Last time these two teams played, the result was an epic game by Zach Randolph and an ugly Grizzlies in win overtime. The Suns are in free fall now, having dropped seven in a row (including that overtime loss thanks to Z-Bo’s 38 and 22). Between leaking statements about the "toxicity" of Michael Beasley, and this long (and good) analysis of the Suns’ defensive woes, things aren’t so sunny in Phoenix anymore (see what I did there?).
Since the Grizzlies have played Phoenix before this season, I figure we already have a feel for the matchups. Here are some things the Grizzlies did badly the last time these two teams played.
- Last week in Memphis, Goran Dragic stole Mike Conley’s lunch money. It’s an established fact that Dragic is really, really good at basketball. If he’s able to score at will against the Grizzlies’ backcourt, the Grizzlies will not win tonight’s game. On offense, the Suns did a good job of hounding the Griz ball handlers and generating turnovers — something the Grizzlies are used to doing to othe people, not vice versa. Hopefully the return of Tony Allen to the lineup means the balance of backcourt power will be firmly tilted back in the Grizzlies’ favor.
- Somebody’s got to figure out how to keep Luis Scola from scoring. It’s still amazing to me that Scola ended up getting amnestied. He’s good. One hopes that Darrell Arthur’s pick-and-roll defense will help inside against Scola and that Zach Randolph can mitigate Marcin Gortat by dropping jab-step jumpers on his head all night long.
- The bench has to show up. In the last matchup between these teams, the Grizzlies’ reserves got outscored 46–24, and Marreese Speights was only on the court for 2:50. That’s not going to cut it night in and night out as we enter the "slog" stretch of the season from Christmastime to the All-Star Break. The bench has to get back into the rhythm they were in in the first few games of the season, when the Zoo Crew nickname was first floated by Wayne Ellington in the locker room. I’m not giving a nickname back to this bench until they earn it. Until then, they’re just "the bench."
- In the last Griz-Suns game, Michael Beasley’s offensive rating was 46, and his DRtg was 113. Let’s keep it that way tonight.