Actually, rebounding is one thing the Memphis Grizzlies weren't too bad at last night in Denver. But with basketball-vacuum Kevin Love on the other side, it'll probably be important once again. As will playing just a bit of defense.
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The second night of a back-to-back -- especially when both contests are on the road -- always feels more than a little ominous in the NBA world of late-night plane flights and sleep deprivation. The Grizzlies tonight, though, after getting caught up in, and often contributing to, the "We can do this without Carmelo" tidal wave in Denver, cannot afford another night of slouching off.
The big matchup you will hear about in this one will be between forwards Zach Randolph, coming off one of his more pedestrian efforts (12 points, 8 rebounds -- I mean, not even a double-double? Come on!) of the season and Kevin Love, following a game that was even a bit more impressive in some ways than the lines we've grown accustomed to seeing behind his name (20 points, 17 boards, 6 assists, zero turnovers) in his first All-Star season.
Don't get me wrong, if one of these guys severely outplays the other, their respective team should have all the greater chance of winning tonight. But if you've followed either the T'Wolves or Grizzlies this season, you know that a great game from Randolph or Love does in no way guarantee success; many a strong outing from these forwards has fallen on deaf (er, losing) ears, and, since neither is a particularly strong defender, chances are they cancel each other's awesomeness out anyway.
Memphis is the better overall team here, and that talent has to be on the court tonight. Because an outing like last night's, especially defensively -- Minnesota likes to shoot three's too, for the record -- where things just really got out of hand all the way around rather quickly, would invite a loss to a team the Grizzlies can't afford losing to. Not with Denver still in flux, and not with Utah blowing everything up. In terms of roster changes, Memphis's one little ol' (okay, slightly large) injury seems pretty normal, doesn't it?
Tonight in Minnesota should be a good night to get this Rudy Gay-less show on the road. Everyone just has to be awake this time.
Thread coming soon!