After Saturday night's win over Golden State, the Grizzlies are now 18-14 and hold the 6th seed. Interestingly enough, the Houston Rockets hold the same record, but are behind us in the standings because we have beaten them both times that we've faced them earlier this season. As we've seen so far this season, the West is deep as hell and the competition between the 4-10 spots is fierce. That's why the losses to Utah and Portland disturbed me so much: we really need the safety net of a tiebreaker in the unlikely event that we finish with the same record. To put it another way, we're currently matched up against the Clippers in the 1st round, and Portland (17-15) is matched up against the Thunder. Would you rather face the Clippers, Dallas, or Lakers (who are 3-5 teams) or the Thunder? Don't get me wrong; I love the rivalry with the Thunder, but let's save it for the 2nd round or WCF.
If we win tonight's game, we hold the tiebreaker over Houston. The good news is that we've played very well against them so far this season, winning by an average of 10 points. Let's hope it continues tonight. After the jump are my keys for the game:
Memphis (18-14) at Houston (18-14)
8:00 P.M. E.T. at Toyota Center
1. Which K-Mart shows up tonight?: In our first match-up against the Rockets, Kevin Martin scored 21 points on 7-11 shooting. In our second match, he scored 0 points. In December, Zach was still playing and chipped in 23 of his own, more than offsetting K-Mart's work. If we want to find success tonight, hopefully our perimeter players, especially Tony Allen, can replicate their defensive performance.
2. 3-Point Defense: This point ties in with the first. 3-point defense has a been something of an eyesore on an otherwise solid, defensive team. I swore we were near the bottom until I looked it up and found that we're actually only 19th (uhm...yay?). In January's game, Houston only attempted 10 shots from deep and only connected on 3 of them. More of this please.
3. O.J. Mayo: I always try to pick a player for my 3rd point, and I haven't yet chosen O.J. for a game, so I thought he was due. Seriously, OJ has been so good for us this season. He's completely embraced the "microwave"-scorer role, and is averaging 12.1 points per game. More importantly, if you're into advanced stats (which I am), he's putting up the best PER and Win Shares of his career. You can tell how well he's playing and how good his mindset is just by watching him. Last season, he wasn't confident at all and appeared to hesitant every time he got the ball. Rumor has it that he was in Hollins' doghouse and the guy looked like he was afraid to make a mistake. This year, he's got his swagger back. Look for a solid game tonight from #32.
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