|2013/2014 NBA Season|
|December 18th, 2013|
|American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX|
|7:30 PM CST|
|Fox SportSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN|
|Tayshaun Prince||SF||Shawn Marion|
|Zach Randolph||PF||Dirk Nowitzki
|Kosta Koufos||C||DeJuan Blair
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|93.0 (30th)||Pace||98.8 (7th)|
|99.2 (21st)||OEff||104.1 (9th)|
|104.5 (27th)||DEff||103.2 (19th)|
Misery does indeed love company, it would seem.
At least in the case of the Memphis Grizzlies. Injuries continue to mount after last night's 96-92 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Mike Conley sat, and comments from Dave Joerger made it seem as if he would likely sit out through the weekend. Mike Miller rolled his ankle, Tayshaun Prince has a sore knee and the Grizzlies lost to a Lakers team without a point guard. The hole that the Grizzlies are digging to bury their season continues to get bigger by the game.
The crazy thing is, it came down to execution, not injury, costing Memphis another opportunity for a victory. Whether it was an Ed Davis bobbled ball on a fast break, a Tony Allen brain fart on a saved ball out of bounds or missed lay-ups, finishing plays and making smart decisions is what truly cost this Grizzlies team against the Lakers. Going forward, as the long but distinguished list of the 2013 inductees into the Memphis Grizzlies' "Hall of Pain" grows, the Bears of Beale Street will not be able to make these mistakes if they hope to win games. The margin for error is gone; execution has to be the priority.
There is no rest for the weary members of Grizz Nation, as Memphis hits the road for the second game of a back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas is firmly in the hunt for the playoffs as the season heads toward the new year behind great seasons from Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. The Mavericks are well coached and the last time the Grizzlies went to Dallas, with a much healthier roster, the Mavericks dominated the Grizzlies behind 24 points from Dirk and 14 Shawn Marion rebounds. Both teams look a bit different this time around, and those changes could make all the difference.
How can the Grizzlies find a way to pull out a win in even the most adverse of situations? 3 keys...
Bigs Be Big
With the injuries to the wings mounting, the four healthy Memphis bigs have to have a great showing this evening if the Grizzlies want a win in Big D. Zach Randolph cannot shoot 7-22 for that to happen. Jon Leuer, while having a great offensive stretch, needs to be more sound on the defensive end of the floor. Ed Davis has shown some positive growth, continues to have issues handling the basketball. Kosta Koufos has struggled the past few games, and in a match-up with DeJuan Blair or Dirk Nowitzki needs to be aggressive, either taking advantage of a shorter Blair or getting Nowitzki in foul trouble and on the bench.
Calderon? More Like Cold-eron
As one of the most efficient three point shooters in the NBA, Jose Calderon could really cause a team like the Grizzlies, who has struggled defending the three all season long. Jerryd Bayless and Nick Calathes need to be sound in their defense, fighting over the top of screens and keeping Calderon in front of them at all times. Good defense does not always have to mean no shots; too often teams take uncontested jumpers against the Grizzlies, which for a player like Calderon is like shooting fish in a barrel. Good positioning, quick footwork and a hand in the face can do wonders in terms of throwing off a shooter's technique and timing. Dirk and Ellis will likely score; the Grizzlies cannot allow Calderon to get in on the fun.
Time to Grind, Son
The injuries have led to the Grizzlies rookie Jamaal Franklin getting more playing time. Last night against the Lakers, Franklin shot 0-5 with 2 rebounds and an assist in 21 minutes. As the "Grindson" fits into this new role with at least reduced minutes for Mike Miller and Tayshaun Prince, if they play at all, he will have to find ways to be more effective. Franklin has an underrated post game for a wing, as well as athleticism and the ability to attack the basket. The Grizzlies will have to find ways to get him involved and play to his strengths when he is in, as he will be depended on for offensive production. Opportunity is knocking. Hopefully Jamaal will answer the door.
This game has all the makings of a let down. Second night of a back-to-back, banged up, tough loss the night before. With Tony Allen and Zach Randolph in the fold, however, you have a chance, and the energy and fight last night was not the issue. The Grizzlies will execute, finding ways to get Jon Leuer and Jamaal Franklin more involved in the offense while limiting the Mavericks defensively. Grit and Grind will make a much needed appearance tonight.
Memphis 98, Dallas 96