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Memphis Grizzlies vs Detroit Pistons - Opening Grindhouse Preview

The Grizzlies look to bounce back against the Detroit Pistons after suffering their first defeat of the year on opening night.

Haduken, he says.
Haduken, he says.
2013/2014 NBA Preseason
0-1 (0-0 home)
Lost 1
1-0 (0-0 road)
Won 1
November 1st, 2013
FedexForum in Memphis, TN
7:00 PM CDT
Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Will Bynum
Tony Allen SG Chauncey Billups
Tayshaun Prince SF Josh Smith
Zach Randolph PF Greg Monroe
Marc Gasol C Andre Drummond
2012/13 Advanced Stats
91.1 (29th) Pace 93.2 (22nd)
101.7 (18th) OEff 100.9 (T-21st)
97.4 (2nd) DEff 105.6 (23rd)

Line: Memphis by -7.5; O/U: 188.0

Opponents Blog: Detroit Bad Boys

Injury Report: Memphis: None; Detroit: Brandon Jennings - Questionable (Tooth); Rodney Stuckey - Questionable (Thumb)

Memphis Grizzlies Tickets

Zach Randolph's Continued Decline

Randolph's struggles are nothing new. He struggled mightily at times last season, particularly in the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. Right now, he doesn't look like the same bullish ox that earned him his Z-Bo nickname. His lift, what little was left, is gone, his jumpers don't have that patented high arc on them right now, and and he is not being as aggressive as the Grizzlies need him to be.

His decrease in productivity is definitely something to monitor over the course of the season, particularly in the first twenty games. If Randolph hasn't pieced together some semblance of his old game 1/4th of the way through the season, then it's time to start considering alternative options at the starting power forward spot.

The video below shows all six of Randolph's shots from opening night against the Spurs. Notice the lack of arc on his shot, him getting outworked by a mediocre defender in Matt Bonner, and him missing decent looks at the basket. All of this is troublesome.

It will be interesting to see how Randolph performs against two hyper-athletic big men in Josh Smith and Greg Monroe on both ends of the floor, but particularly on offense. The two could cause nightmares for Zach, but if he can bounce back from one of the worst games of his career against those two, Grizzlies fans will be largely relieved, at least for a little bit. If he can't get anything going again against the Pistons, look for Leuer and Davis to get more of his minutes. Joerger hasn't shown that he's a particularly patient coach with poor play so far.

Where's the help?

The Pistons won't have Tony Parker to run circles around the Grizzlies of course, but that doesn't change the fact that the defensive rotations and help defense were terrible in the first game of the year. Maybe that can be chalked up to it being the first game of the season on the road against a tough, veteran team, but it would be nice to see the Grizzlies snap back into that classic Grit 'n Grind top-notch defensive form that fans love.

Late rotations, poor communication, and nonexistent help defense plagued the Grizzlies on opening night against the Spurs. This was a problem in the preseason as well. Hopefully it's just rust carrying over from the offseason, because the Grizzlies can't afford to give up so many easy baskets against great teams like the Spurs if they plan to improve upon last year's finish in the Western Conference Finals.

The video below shows several examples of the Grizzlies bad defense on opening night. It features Marc Gasol failing to help a couple times, Kosta Koufos either not helping or rotating late, and a lack of communication killing the Grizzlies on multiple possessions. Not good.

Quincy Pondexter: Weight Lifted

After signing a 4 year, $14 million extension just one game into the season, Pondexter can relax and just play loose. Sometimes signing players to a contract so early can be a double-edged sword. Either a player continues to play hard because it's in their makeup to do so or they slack off a little bit because they got paid. Pondexter seems to fit in the first category, and his extension is certainly well-deserved. Also, how about the Grizzlies pulling off that coup getting him locked up for just $3.5 million a year for possibly the four best years of his NBA career? Well done front office. The Grizzlies will need Pondexter to continue to lead the second unit like he did for much of opening night if the bench is to have the impact they need to for the Grizzlies to establish a balanced attack. Q-Pon could be the x-factor against the Pistons.

Quick Tidbits

  • Tony Allen was 3-3 from beyond the arc in the first game of the season. It would be stunning if he even hit one this game. Those performances from Tony only happen once in a blue moon.
  • The starting five of Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol got the most run against the Spurs (15 minutes), and they played awful together, finishing with a raw +/- of -7, the worst of any lineup. +/- is a stat that's hard to gleam meaning from, but it's certainly interesting.
  • Josh Smith had a strong debut with the Pistons, finishing with 19 points on 8-12 from the field, including 3-7 from beyond the arc. Look for that to be fool's gold, as he typically isn't that efficient.
  • The Piston's starting five is likely to be Chauncey Billups, Will Bynum, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond, unless either Brandon Jennings or Rodney Stuckey plays.
  • Through one game, the Detroit Pistons have a better defensive rating (106.2 ) than the Grizzlies (107.4)
  • The Grizzlies did indeed play at a much quicker pace in game one than they did last season. 2013-14 Opening Night Pace: 98.32 2012-13 Regular Season Pace: 91.15 Take that with a grain of salt, but that's a step towards what Joerger wants. The efficiency just needs to catch up now.

Final Prediction

The Grizzlies will play well for four full quarters, and they will never be in danger of losing this one. Randolph will rebound with his buddy Future in the building singing before the game to get him fired up. He will finish with a double-double, albeit an inefficient one. The Grizzlies defense will rebound, and Joerger's offense will still look very much like a work in progress. Have patience. Progress will be made against the Pistons.

Final Score: Memphis 93, Detroit 80

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