Where- St. Louis, Missouri, 7 PM CST
How You Can Watch/Listen- DirecTV Channel 665/92.9 ESPN Memphis
Chicago Bulls- Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Nazr Muhammad
Memphis Grizzlies- Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Injury Report- Joakim Noah (Groin) Day-to-day, out tonight.
Another season is upon us! And even though it is only a pre-season game, I believe I speak for all of Grizz Nation when I say that it has been too long. This off-season was eventful, with a new head coach in Dave Joerger and new roster members in Kosta Koufos, Jamaal Franklin, Mike Miller and Nick Calathes. So how will all of these new pieces fit into the Grit and Grind puzzle? Tonight is the beginning of the journey toward an answer. No offense to the Bulls, but aside from Derrick Rose playing in his 2nd game since his injury in the 2012 playoffs I am far more interested in our Grizzlies and how they look tonight. So, here are 5 things to look for starting tonight...
- The Offense- Reports out of training camp in Nashville from Ron Tillery of the Commercial Appeal seem to indicate that Joerger's offensive schemes will be predicated on movement and getting in to sets faster. The team conducted drills in which the shot clock was set at 12 seconds, emphasizing ball movement. Players are also being asked to focus on play-making more, and players like Quincy Pondexter are working on their ball-handling and driving to the basket. How all these adjustments work themselves into place as the pre-season unfolds will be intriguing, to say the least.
- The Lineups- The starters appear to be the same as last season...for now. And in the pre-season the starters will not play nearly as many minutes as they will starting in San Antonio 23 days from now (!!!!!) But how will substitutions be utilized? Coach Joerger will use this pre-season to experiment and see which groupings work best together, and all hypothesized lineups will likely be tested. Twin Towers with Gasol and Koufos is one in particular I would like to see in action.
- The "Grindson"- Jamaal Franklin, a player that I have discussed a good bit on the site will likely see his first NBA game action tonight. What will Jamaal bring to the table this season? The only way to find out is through minutes, and players like Franklin will get plenty of opportunities this pre-season to show that he should spend most of the season with the big club and not in the D-League.
- The "European Crossover"- Nick Calathes will also get big minutes this October as Joerger and company try to see what they have in the "rookie" Point Guard. Can he run the offense better than the current 2nd string PG Jerryd Bayless? An interesting competition that will likely mean less minutes for the loser. For a more in-depth look at Calathes, check out Scott's player preview here.
- The Back-up Bigs- Reports out of camp are that Kosta Koufos is frustrating Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol with his defense and gobbling up every rebound while Ed Davis is flying around the court but struggling with his shot early. If the strength of the Grizzlies is the front court, these two young bulls need to continue to develop through the next month, especially in their low-post offense. Kosta has never really been asked to be a scorer with his back to the basket, Ed seemed lost on offense and defense at times last season and a major critique of both Ed and Kosta is their free throw shooting. Hopefully improvements will be seen across the board from these key pieces to the Grizzlies' success this season.
Tonight is the first small step on the long and winding road toward the ultimate goal of an NBA championship. Let it sink in, Grizzlies fans, our boys are back!