|2013/2014 NBA Season|
|February 21st, 2014|
|FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN|
|7:00 PM CST|
|Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN|
|Mike Conley||PG||Damian Lillard|
|Courtney Lee||SG||Wesley Matthews|
|Tayshaun Prince||SF||Nicolas Batum|
|Zach Randolph||PF||LaMarcus Aldridge|
|Marc Gasol||C||Robin Lopez|
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|92.3 (30th)||Pace||98.0 (T-9th)|
|102.9 (19th)||OEff||108.5 (4th)|
|102.3 (10th)||DEff||104.5 (T-17th)|
Opponent's Blog: Blazer's Edge
Keys to the game
Duplicate Round 1 In the first game, the Grizzlies shut down the Blazers' 3 point attack for most of the night, holding them to 4-24 (16.7%) for the game. Statistically, the Blazers have proven to come and go as their outside weapons go - those primarily being Matthews, Batum, and Mo Williams. I don't expect 16% again, but if the Grizzlies can keep the Blazers from filling it up from deep, it is a big step in the right direction.
Stars vs. Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Zach Randolph each are double-double machines who can score and rebound at high levels. In their first matchup, Z-Bo got his with 23 and 10, but Aldridge racked up 27 and 16 of his own to win that battle in a losing cause. Look for LMA and Z-Bo to lock horns tonight and end up with around a 20-10 or better apiece.
Damian Lillard and Mike Conley will face off again after Conley (19 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists) outdueled Lillard (16 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists) in that first meeting. Conley has been up and down since his return from injury, and a similar result tonight would be big for the Grizzlies.
Control Pace Portland is a team that wants to get up and down the court. Lopez and Aldridge are bigs with good quickness and end-to-end speed, and all 3 perimeter players excel in transition also. The Grizzlies, especially the Grizzlies bigs, are simply not willing to trade buckets in that manner. Look for the Grizzlies to continually try to keep the pace under control by controlling the boards, turnovers and using clock on offense.
Slipping through their fingers
When the Grizzlies met the Blazers in late January, they were 3rd in the league and playing well. As often happens with teams whose fortunes go as their jumpshooters go, they have fallen off some as the season has progressed, and now likely will not have home court advantage in the playoffs. They stumble into this game having lost 3 of their last 4. The Grizzlies must pounce while the Blazers are down.
Fresh Legs, pts. 1 & 2
A couple of Tweets show how the Grizzlies' veterans are helping to carry them since the break:
RT @RossWooden Tony Allen, Post All-Star Break (9 games): 10.3 ppg . 625 fg% (40/64) . 667 3fg% (4/6) 22.3 mpg— Jon Roser (@Jon_Roser) March 10, 2014
Joe's neat-o fact-o-the-day
The Grizzlies currently have 3 players in the top 100 in the league in true shooting percentage: Mike Miller (61.6%, 15th), Courtney Lee (58.5%, 47th) and Jon Leuer (57.9%, 61st).
This statistic does weigh 3 pointers more heavily because they're worth more points, but the statistic tells you as a whole how efficient that player is per shot attempt. Of the big 3, Mike Conley is most efficient (53.8%, 156th), followed by Gasol (52.2%, 203rd) and Randolph (50.2%, 250th). It is a good thing the front office beefed up the bench, because our stars simply have not been efficient scorers this year.
To compare that to last year, Z-Bo is about the same (50.6%, 243rd last year) but Conley (54.9%, 115th LY) and especially Gasol (55.9%, 91st LY) have been much less efficient this year. That said, Conley's efficiency has dropped significantly since returning from his last injury while Gasol's has been arcing upward since around the All-Star break. We can hope for similar trend from Conley as he continues to work his way back into that All-Star-level form we saw through much of the first half of the season.
The Bottom Line
The Grizzlies are temporarily in 8th place, but are going to have to keep winning to stay there. A win tonight against the 5th-place Blazers would be another step down that playoff path. If the Griz can muster a big-time defensive night - especially guarding the 3 point line - it should help the Grizzlies pick up this much-needed win.