Friday night Zach Randolph returned to the court after an extended absence due to injury. Fortunately, the injury doesn't seem to have hampered his ability as he looked like the same player who led Memphis' exciting playoff run. Randolph scored 25 points and pulled down 9 rebounds in only 24 minutes. Rudy Gay also returned from a concussion and played well, with 26 points and 11 rebounds. In spite of these positive performances, the Grizzlies managed to drop a game to the lowly Toronto Raptors. Tonight they will surely be looking to redeem themselves.
One of the bigger deals around the trade deadline was the Wizards' acquisition of Nene. Washington has been even worse than Toronto this season, and their franchise cornerstone, John Wall, hasn't emerged as the star that many thought he would be. In Wall's defense, the lack of quality teammates and coaching has hindered his development. Now that he finally has a strong running partner, the hope is that he is able to reach his potential.
Washington (10-33) at Memphis (24-18)
6:00 P.M. ET at FedEx Forum
Keys to the game:
1. Chemistry: The Grizzlies were mostly quiet around the trade deadline, trading only unused forward Sam Young for the rights to Ricky Sanchez. While the front office is still looking to add a veteran point guard, this is our team going forward. Fortunately, the team has remained mostly unchanged over the past few seasons and has a strong chemistry. On the other side, the Wizards will be looking to work Nene into their team. While he is an unarguable upgrade over JaVale McGee, there may be a few bumps in the road as he and Wall adjust to one another.
2. Z-Bo: Randolph had no trouble in his first game back after missing more than 2 months. Will he be able to continue his dominance tonight? Last night, Lionel Hollins played him less than 30 minutes. Look for him to stay in that range as he works himself back into game shape.
3.Watchability: Although I fully expect the Grizzlies to get the win tonight, this has the potential to be an ugly game. Washington has been downright atrocious on both ends of the floor this season. While Memphis is usually a fun team to watch, they sometimes play down to their opponents. Here's to hoping that they put on a show tonight.
For more on the Wizards, check out Bullets Forever.