Grizzlies host Rockets, look to gauge themselves without Marc Gasol

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis lost Marc Gasol for a couple of months to a sprained MCL suffered during a loss to San Antonio on Friday. The Grizzlies are known for their ability to face adversity, but can they operate without Gasol directing traffic on both ends of the floor?

2013/2014 NBA Season
vs
7-6 (3-3 home)
Lost 1
9-5 (3-3 road)
Won 1
November 25th, 2013
FedexForum in Memphis, TN
7:00 PM CDT
Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Jeremy Lin
Tony Allen SG Pat Beverley
Tayshaun Prince SF Chandler Parsons
Zach Randolph PF Terrence Jones
Kosta Koufos C Dwight Howard
2013/14 Advanced Stats
92.8 (30th) Pace 100.8 (T-4th)
99.7 (17th) OEff 107.3 (3rd)
102.3 (19th) DEff 101.8 (16th)
Injury Report

Memphis - Marc Gasol (Grade 2 left MCL sprain) is out indefinitely.

Houston - Ronnie Brewer (strained right calf), James Harden (sore left foot) and Greg Smith (sprained
right knee).

Opponent's Blog - The Dream Shake

Gasol-ine Alternatives

The Memphis Grizzlies have had a couple of days to stand in front of their mirrors at home and ask themselves, "What am I made of?" And in order for the Grizzlies season to continue on its desired trajectory, the answer to that question may need to be "100% pure whoop ass."

Memphis will have to replace roughly 34 minutes, 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 block that Gasol was producing just about every game. Additionally, they have to find a MAKE-SHIFT method of replacing all of the intangible and semi-tangible qualities that Marc brought to the court.


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2013 - Marc Gasol 13 34.3 5.9 12.9 45.8 0.0 0.1 0.0 4.2 4.7 88.5 1.5 5.5 7.1 4.3 1.7 0.9 1.1 2.5 16.0


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2013 - Kosta Koufos 13 17.2 2.6 5.5 47.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.3 58.8 1.5 3.2 4.6 0.7 1.0 0.4 0.8 2.3 6.0

The minutes, rebounds and even points will be the easier part of the situation to handle. Kosta Koufos is used to playing starter minutes, and more importantly, he's used to winning as a starting center. Even though Koufos was previously averaging about 50% less than Gasol, he was only averaging about 35% fewer rebounds per game. That paints us a picture of a more athletic 7-footer that is capable of cleaning up the glass at a more productive rate than Gasol.

As far as sheer scoring goes, Memphis has immediate go-to options in Zach Randolph and Mike Conley. Until Koufos, Davis and Leuer find a consistent ready rhythm on offense, Conley and Randolph will be able to, at least, replace the shots that Gasol was taking. And that's not the worst option to have, as Mike and Zach are shooting over 50% so far this season, while Gasol was sitting right under 46%.

The biggest problem the Grizzlies will have for the next few months is finding the methodology needed to simulate what is essentially a 7-foot point guard standing at the top of the key. They've got Jon Leuer, who has the skills and physical traits to look the part, but no one is going to be able to duplicate the passes that Gasol pulls off every game. This might place even more emphasis on efficiently rotating the ball in half court sets, something the Grizzlies were just starting to get the hang of in the past couple of weeks.

What the Grizzlies are probably thinking: "Stay calm. Breathe. We've been through this situation before, just not with Marc. We could start patting ourselves on the back for the Arthur/Koufos trade, but we need some serious focus during the finish to November because some pundits are counting us out of the playoffs with Gasol missing so much time.

We're going to depend on Mike Conley more than ever, and he's showing us he might be ready for the task this season. We still have an All-Star power forward to keep the offense going through the post, but Ed Davis is going to have to take that next step if we're going to fight for a decent playoff seed."

What the Rockets are probably thinking: "Well, it's not nearly as much fun without James Harden on the court. We're sitting fairly pretty at 9-5, but we've struggled in the Western Conference more than we'd like, and the month of December doesn't get any easier for us (GS, IND, SAS, OKC, CHI, POR and MEM, again) so we need to burst into FedexForum tonight and bully ourselves to a win.

The Grizzlies won't have Gasol around to bait D12 into foul trouble, so we'd like to get our own All-Star center going often and early. We feel good our chances of putting up serious points tonight, so if the Grizzlies struggle to find their way without Gasol, we could sink our teeth in early and put them away like we did in the preseason match at FedexForum."

Predictions for the evening: Memphis may not have the services of Marc Gasol, but you can argue that Houston will be equally as affected without the services of James Harden. Mike Conley should be able to shred Jeremy Lin on all accounts, and since Tony Allen won't be purely relegated to covering Harden, he'll be able to match-up to the other perimeter threats that the Rockets have to offer.

The Rockets thoroughly handled the Grizzlies in the preseason even with James Harden and Dwight Howard playing a combined 22 minutes, so the entirety of Memphis' roster needs to be on their toes tonight. The Grizzlies don't play very well from behind, but if they can feed ZBo in the post and keep Houston off the offensive boards, they have a good chance of pulling a win out of the hat tonight.

Final Score: Memphis 99 - Houston 96

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