|2013/2014 NBA Season|
|December 15th, 2013|
|FedexForum in Memphis, TN|
|5:00 PM CST|
|Fox SportSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN|
|Mike Conley||PG||Ricky Rubio|
|Zach Randolph||PF||Kevin Love|
|Kosta Koufos||C||Nikola Pekovic|
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|93.0 (30th)||Pace||101.4 (2nd)|
|99.2 (21st)||OEff||102.6 (12th)|
|104.2 (T-25th)||DEff||101.3 (14th)|
On paper this looks like it could be a good game. You've got two teams hovering around .500 trying to make their stake near the bottom of the playoff seeding. Both the Grizzlies and the Timberwolves rebound the ball well, take care of the ball better than most teams and and a high percentage of their possessions with an assisted basket.
One of the stark differences, however, is that Minnesota averages over 8 more possessions a game than the Grizzlies while scoring more often on overall possessions. In fact, if I plug these two teams into the patented Faulkner-O-Matic-Prediction-Formula™ then we come out with a loss for the Grizzlies, 88-98.
Not only is the math up against the Grizzlies today, the T-Wolves now have the services of two certified Griz Killers, Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer. Although those two haven't been particularly hot as of late, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio have been picking up the slack, averaging a combined 40 ppg over their past (5) contests.
However, save for one early season win over the Thunder, the T-Wolves have been plodding along much like the Grizzlies - beating really bad teams and getting stomped by elite teams like Miami, Indiana, OKC and San Antonio.
After watching Memphis over the past several games, it's hard for me to sit here and say the Grizzlies simply need someone to step up to start winning games. In the Griz' past (5) they've had Jon Leuer averaging 15 ppg, Kosta Koufos averaging 10 ppg, Mike Miller and Ed Davis at 9 ppg. It's been more about the players that have been stepping down - ZBo's shooting percentages are subpar, Tayshaun is averaging 4 ppg on 27% shooting over the past (5) games while Jerryd Bayless is at 7 ppg on 33% shooting.
The Grizzlies are now 3-6 since Marc Gasol has gone out with injury, and while they've suffered additional injuries to exacerbate the circumstances, it's getting close to time for Memphis to start acting like they are fighting for their playoff existence. Memphis sits in 13th place in the conference and is 3 games back from the team currently sitting in 8th place.
Although the next couple of months on the schedule are freckled with some easy contests (Utah, NY, Milwaukee, Sacramento), the Grizzlies aren't appearing as a team that can be assumed to beat anyone right now. Honestly, the only convincing win they've had without Marc Gasol has been over the Orlando Magic, a game wherein every single player that suited up for the Grizzlies contributed significantly.
And that might be the key to salvaging the months of December and January. Memphis needs everyone that steps onto the court to be focused and ready to play. Friday night showed us that we don't usually win when a couple of players get hot (Jon Leuer and Mike Conley), the weak links in the chain always break the Grizzlies.
Let's see that chest bowed up, Nick Calathes. Let's drive it to the rim, Tayshaun. Let's play within ourselves and stop whining about fouls, Yella Yella.
And Tony, dude, c'mon. You were the one holding it together, believe it or not. Is Grit'n'Grind dead? Or are you going to pry it out of the wreckage of the season with the jaws of life?
We're already up against enough without having to go up against ourselves as well.