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Grizzlies vs. Hornets Preview: Put on your galoshes, there could be some mud

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These are two teams who typically don't have very high scoring affairs when they meet. Can the Grizzlies' efficient offense break the cycle?

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
2014/15 NBA Season
vs
2014/15:
17-4 (10-1 home)
2014/15:
6-15 (1-8 road)
December 12, 2014
FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
7:00 PM CDT
Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Kemba Walker
Courtney Lee SG Gerald Henderson
Tony Allen SF Lance Stephenson
Zach Randolph PF Marvin Williams
Marc Gasol C Al Jefferson
2014/15 Advanced Stats
94.1 (27th) Pace 94.4 (25th)
107.4 (5th) OEff 98.0 (T-26th)
99.9 (6th) DEff 105.2 (22nd)
50.2 (15th) RebR 49.0 (T-21st)

Hornets vs Grizzlies coverage

Opponent's Blog: At The Hive

Injuries

Hornets: (none)

Grizzlies: (none)

Know Your Opponent

The then-Bobcats were one of the pleasant surprises of the '13-'14 season, as newly-acquired big man Al Jefferson and point guard Kemba Walker led the team to an under-the-radar 43-39 record and a 7 seed in the East.   Though they were swept in the playoffs by the eventual East champion Miami Heat, there was a lot of optimism heading into the offseason.  With their only losses being role players Josh McRoberts and Ramon Sessions, the addition of the dynamic Lance Stephenson, and the return of the Hornets name and logo, the offseason did little to dispute that belief.

This young season, however, has not been so kind to the Hornets.  Lance Stephenson's volatile presence seems to have derailed what little efficiency the Bobcats had last year.  The statistic that stands out the most is their defensive efficiency, 6th last year, dropping to 22nd this year.  The team has struggled to defend, and is also one of the worst shooting teams in the league (tied for 28th in true shooting percentage).  When you can't shoot and you can't defend, a 6-15 record to start the season is not surprising.

Points of Grizzly Emphasis

  • Respect Charlotte's weapons. Now that I spent a paragraph telling you how awful the Hornets have been, here's the flip side: they have some weapons and can be good.  Al Jefferson is still a threat to go 25-10 every night.  Kemba Walker is quick and can get hot.  Lance Stephenson can get hot and take over a game.  Gerald Henderson or Gary Neal can go off for 20 on a given night. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is coming back from injury, but has all-around skill that can present a problem.  Outside of that, the roster is largely the same as the team that split its matchups with the Grizzlies in '13-'14.
  • Beat them at our game. Charlotte is a slow-paced team that doesn't turn the ball over much, has good rebounding bigs, likes to lay their claim on defense, doesn't block a lot of shots, and prefers to work the ball inside over perimeter play.  Sound familiar?   They haven't been very successful at it this year, but they follow the Grit 'n' Grind blueprint in those ways and more.   Thus far this season, the execution has not been there for the Hornets, but they will surely try to drag the Grizzlies in the mud with them like they did in the November 1st game in Charlotte.  This is the first time in the Memphis Grit 'n' Grind era when the offense has been even better than the defense, and that level of execution will be necessary if the Grizzlies wish to stay above the fracas this time around.

Why you should watch this game

The Grizzlies are going through a tough December, and this is one of the games they should win on paper.  The first game in Charlotte was a 71-69 festival of ugliness, and this one can only be better, right?  Right?  It's Friday night in Memphis in December, and downtown's decked out in Christmas lights, so why not come out and cheer on these 17-4 Grizzlies?

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