It would seem, on paper, that tonight's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers should be a walk in the park. Not that the Cavs aren't playing much better this season than they have in years past, but without Kyrie Irving, it's tough to imagine that this Cavs team, who is 1-8 on the road this season, can pose much of a threat to the Grizzlies. Not now, at least.
Again, we can't discount any team, even when playing at home. I gave fair warning about the Nuggets home game and, well, that one got away from us.
The good news here is that the Grizzlies come into this game with fresh legs, having played twice in the past week, and, again, playing at home is certainly an advantage for the Griz.
A key matchup tonight, and one I am definitely, DEFINITELY, looking forward to watching is the one between Anderson Varejao and Zach Randolph.
Varejao and Randolph are one and two in the NBA in rebounding, with AV leading the league at 14.1 boards per game and Randolph checking in at 13.6. They also represent the top to offensive rebounders in the NBA, which should be plenty fun to watch in the paint.
The good news here, though, is that beyond Varejao (and Tristan Thompson), the Cavaliers aren't very good at working the glass -- they're 20th in the league in rebounding, even with the league's best patrolling the paint. The struggle is that, while body-ing Randolph, you have Marc Gasol to worry about -- for a team with limited size, that's tough.
In the backcourt, without Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers have a bit of a struggle on their hands. Of course us Grizzlies fans are quite familiar with Jeremy Pargo, who is starting at point, but while he's played well in his new-found role, there's no question that Pargo shouldn't be a starting point guard for an NBA team. Advantage, Mike Conley.
The struggle for the Cavs all season long has been their defense, really even with Irving. So far they are checking in at 29th overall, allowing 102.2 points per game, and 28th in defensive efficiency. Not. Good.
In the end, this game should result as a 'W' for the Grizzlies, though I'm not going call it a "walk." When you have a young, active team, like the Cavaliers, anything can happen. Dion Waiters might find his stroke, or Alonzo Gee might have one of "those" games. Anything, really.
If I must, I'm going to place my prediction with the Grizzlies winning yet another home game by double digits, with Randolph once again doubling up. It all just feels right!
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For more on the Cavs, see: Fear The Sword
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