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Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings: Kissing Cousins

The Kings are a team with whom the Grizzlies have much familiarity and, statistically speaking, they have nearly mirror the less-than-desirable start to the season (*see advanced stats below). Can Memphis start a winning streak against the Kings in an ironically raucous Sleep Train Arena?

2013/2014 NBA Season
4-5 (1-3 road)
Won 1
2-6 (2-4 road)
Lost 1
November 16th, 2013
Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, CA
5:00 PM CDT
Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Greivis Vasquez
Tony Allen SG Ben McLemore
Tayshaun Prince SF John Salmons
Zach Randolph PF Jason Thompson
Marc Gasol C DeMarcus Cousins
2013/14 Advanced Stats
93.8 (29th) Pace 94.2 (26th)
98.1 (24th) OEff 99.4 (20th)
104.2 (24th) DEff 104.2 (23d)

Line: Memphis by -2: O/U: 190

Opponent's Blog: Sactown Royalty

Injury Report: Memphis: Quincy Pondexter - Probable (Nose); Sacramento: Patrick Patterson - Questionable (Knee); Carl Landry - Out (Hip)

Memphis Grizzlies Tickets

Defend the Three-Point Line

The Grizzlies have allowed opponents to shoot 38.3% from the three-point line through nine games this season. That's bad enough to be 27th in the league in that department. The Grizzlies have been doing a ton of ball-watching, their help defense is mistimed, and their rotations are unnecessarily overaggressive. Right now, the previously great defense of the Grizzlies have exacerbated their problem by not trusting each other. Take a look at the Lakers hitting wide-open three after wide-open three in the video below. Tony Allen is notorious for roaming and playing off of his man unwisely, which is partly what has made him a great defender. However, his gambles have come back to bite him, at least so far, this season.

The biggest problem with the Grizzlies defense right now is trust. There is none. Nobody is showing belief in their teammate to be able to keep their man from scoring. Everyone is acting like they have to be everywhere and guard all five players on the floor at any given time, and that's obviously not what great defense is predicated on. Memphis can have all the best individual defenders in the world, but that won't do them much good in terms of team defense. It would go a long way for the team's defense if they would just get back to the fundamentals and stay home. The Kings are in the lower third of the league in terms of three-point field goal percentage, so hopefully the Grizzlies can work on fixing some things on the defensive end of the floor before facing stiffer competition.

Rotation Consistency

Head Coach David Joerger has tinkered with the rotations every game this year, and there are always new wrinkles. It's no coincidence that the Grizzlies have played their best basketball on both ends when Joerger leaves the lineups alone and lets one group stay on the court for an extended period of time without a substitution just for substitutions sake. The Grizzlies depth is a great asset, but at times Joerger looks out of his depth managing it. When guys show up to the arena every night not having the slightest clue whether they will play, how long, or with which teammates, it can really affect their psyche. With a new coach, there needs to be a period where they are allowed to tinker with the rotation, but at some point, you need to have a set plan and say these are the guys I'm rolling out there every night. That way, your team knows what to expect.

Feed the Ox

When Zach Randolph plays well, the Grizzlies are given an incredible boost and just seem to play with so much more energy. Z-Bo still has more left in the tank than many give him credit for. He's averaging 14.3 PPG and 8.4 RPG this season, and he has five double-doubles in nine games. He might be overpaid, but if he happened to go down with an injury, the Grizzlies would have a hard time replacing that production, especially with anybody on the current roster. Also, Randolph's effort sets the tone many nights. During the Lakers game, others were feeding off of his example. He hustled all night long grabbing rebounds, chasing down lose balls, helping on defense, and muscling his way to the rim relentlessly with the ball in his hands. Joerger would be wise to get the big fella some post touches on set plays early in the game. Friday night against the Lakers was the first time anybody other than Mike Conley on this team showed that they were fed up with losing. Obviously, more than two are needed, but lighting a fire under Conley and Randolph, two of the team's leaders, is a good start.

Quick Tidbits
  • Hopefully going against one of the most talented young big men in the league in DeMarcus Cousins will fire Marc Gasol up and send him on a tear. That will be a fun matchup.
  • The Grizzlies best lineup that's been used at least ten minutes in terms of raw +/- is Mike Conley, Mike Miller, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol. Might that have something to do with spacing...?
  • DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 22.8 PPG and 10.0 RPG. No comment needed.
  • The Grizzlies won all four games against the Kings last season.
Final Prediction

The Grizzlies will continue to grow closer as a team on this tough West Coast road trip, and this victory will come a little easier than the one against the Lakers. Boogie Cousins puts up big numbers, but the Kings are unable to match the Grizzlies talent at each position. Don't be surprised to see another double-double from Zach Randolph, as he seems to have started playing inspired basketball.

Final Score: Memphis, 91, Sacramento 83

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