Hope everyone's Christmas was merry as could be, and I hope the holiday season keeps cheering everybody up. The Memphis Grizzlies might need a pick-me-up, I believe (according to Rudy's twitter) that the boys spent at least part of Christmas Day in Dallas, where it's probably hard to come by a nice barbecued goose.
But that's the working world, because the Grizz are back on their grind tonight against the Mavericks. The last time these two met was a sort of coming out party for the Grizzlies, as they smoked Dirk and his Mavs at the FedEx Forum. Don't expect the Mavs to roll over so easily today, though.
Jump on over for some more preview, the comments thread, and always respect the Mavs Moneyball.
The Mavericks are divisional rivals and a hardened bunch of veterans, so I'm sure they didn't take the loss lightly last time. At 20-9 they lead the division and are 2nd in the Conference. While this team might be old, they're still tough as nails and run at least 8 deep with a bench that could start for some teams.
With super-late-pick rookie Rodrigue Beaubois, reigning sixth man of the year Jason "The Jet" Terry, Drew Gooden, and former starter Josh Howard, the Mavericks are probably close to the deepest team in the league. Their starting lineup is also remarkably solid with Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, and Shawn Marion anchoring the team.
Lately the breakout guy, however, has been Jose Juan Barea, who has just lit up opposing squads on and off over the past couple weeks. JJB has developed his jumper to the point that he is, essentially, a more pugnacious version of The Jet. For those of you who don't know, think of him as Kyle Lowry in overdrive.
The Grizzlies will see a Mavericks team tonight who, for all their talents, is still often inconsistent and highly reliant on Dirk to carry them to wins at times. The Mavs are vulnerable, particularly against younger squads who attack the basket.
If one of the 'Big Four' can heat up and two others can carry their weight, the Grizzlies should be able to steal another win from one of the top teams in the Association. Zach Randolph seems to play well against Dirk, and I actually like Mike Conley's chances to do a little more than expected against the Jason Kidd's antique legs.
I don't want to call this one another Grizzlies win -- not on the road against an elite team -- but they've definitely got a shot to keep fans celebrating throughout the holidays.