The Memphis Grizzlies take a 2-3 preseason record into Dallas, Texas tonight for a match-up with the 2-3 Mavericks. The game tips at 7:30 CT and there is no TV for tonight's contest. These two teams know each other very well and will see each other 4 times during the regular season, so in terms of scheme and intensity do not expect too much. There are some interesting story lines in play, however. Three things to "watch" for...
1. Will Vince Carter Play in His Return to Dallas?
Yes, it is preseason basketball and clearly Head Coach Dave Joerger is being cautious with the elder Carter, who has played in only 3 of the 5 preseason games so far for an average of about 9.3 minutes per game. VC is coming off of off-season ankle surgery as well remember, and the 37 year old is a known commodity at this stage of his career. He is not trying to earn playing time or a role for the Grizzlies; that is set in stone. The key is for Vince to make it to opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, not expend himself in his 17th preseason.
Still, the fans in Dallas will almost certainly welcome Carter warmly given how well he played for the Mavericks during his time there, and Vince will probably want to play some just to say "hello". Expect to "see" about 9-12 minutes from Vinsanity, a made three-point shot and then an early hook with eyes to October 29th.
2. Will Jordan Adams Respond?
The current "it" Grizzly had his first truly poor performance in Beale Street Blue against Flamengo, shooting 17% from the floor and looking generally disinterested in playing against the lesser team. It is one thing for a veteran like Zach Randolph to perhaps look ahead to the start of the regular season, but it is quite another for a rookie to appear to do the same thing. Of course it was only one game, and even with that poor performance Adams is still looking the part of a contributing NBA player so far. Coach Joerger is undoubtedly looking for consistency from his potential rotation players, however, so "look" for JA to bounce back tonight and continue to add fuel to the "who should start/play on the wing" debate.
3. Is Zach Randolph Embracing "Less is More?"
Z-Bo has recently said in the media that he is willing to embrace a lesser role and allow for Marc Gasol to become more aggressive. The recent game against Flamengo shows that, as Randolph took 7 shots and was seemingly comfortable in a leadership/more passive and facilitating position. Zach stepping back a bit has been discussed on this site before, and Z-Bo focusing almost solely on rebounding could result in Kevin Love/DeAndre Jordan levels of glass cleaning from Randolph, who possesses the innate timing and positioning skills that so many NBA players would love to have.
Of course, Randolph took 15 shots the game before and it is likely that his average attempts during the season are closer to that 15 than the Flamengo 7. Zach's potential willingness to give in to Marc more is worth "watching" unfold however.
Last week of the preseason (thankfully). Coming out of Dallas healthy is more important than leaving with a win at this point. Hope for no injuries and good performances from the bench players/guys trying to make the roster. The starters have bigger fish to fry.