|2013/2014 NBA Season|
|March 19th, 2014|
|FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN|
|7:00 PM CDT|
|Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN|
|Mike Conley||PG||Trey Burke|
|Courtney Lee||SG||Gordon Hayward|
|Tayshaun Prince||SF||Richard Jefferson|
|Zach Randolph||PF||Marvin Williams|
|Marc Gasol||C||Derrick Favors|
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|92.3 (30th)||Pace||93.7 (27th)|
|103.0 (T-17th)||OEff||100.4 (23rd)|
|102.0 (9th)||DEff||108.5 (30th)|
Jazz - n/a
Grizzlies - Quincy Pondexter (Out, Foot)
Keys to the game
Guard the shooters Utah's starting 5 features 4 guys who are willing to shoot the 3 a lot - Burke, Hayward, Jefferson, and Williams. Burke (34%) and Hayward (31%) have not been efficient shooters this season but Williams (38%) and Jefferson (42%) can definitely hurt you. With Z-Bo's history of struggling to guard stretch 4's, Marvin Williams worries me the most. The Jazz don't shoot a ton of 3's on average, but went 11-24 in their last visit to Memphis on December 23rd. It's a big reason that game was close, and you can bet they'd like to replicate that success again.
The Grizzlies will likely look to stay on the shooters more, as well as probably play more perimeter-oriented defenders at the 4 (Leuer, Dr. JJ, possibly Prince).
Defense and ball control Despite the large difference in records, these teams are similar statistically in some ways - slow paced, don't shoot the 3 particularly well overall, below average offensive efficiency. They are, however, very different is some key ways. The Grizzlies have been one of the best defensive teams in the league since Gasol's return and are in the top 10 overall for the season. Utah is dead last. Utah is below average in rebounding and turning the ball over, and the Grizzlies are among the best in both. Defense and controlling the ball - aka Grizzly basketball - are what should spell victory for the Grizzlies.
Battle of the Bench Bigs
Enes Kanter has been very solid for the Jazz this year off the bench, averaging 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in 25 minutes per game. Utah likes to pair him with Favors for a change of pace from stretch 4 Williams or with high-flying Jeremy Evans, who has become an impact bench player in his own right this year. It will be interesting to see how Joerger uses Koufos, Ed Davis, Leuer and James Johnson to match up with the Jazz bench.
A bad time for a slump
Gordon Hayward is an interesting study - going back to his days at Butler, he alternates being a good 3 point shooter or a bad 3 point shooter year to year:
For you old baseball fans, it's like Bret Saberhagen, who was known for being one of the best pitchers around, but only every other year. It's a strange phenomenon. Unfortunately for Hayward, it's coming in a contract year - and this after he reportedly was looking for in excess of $12 million per season during last offseason's contract negotiations with Utah. One can only surmise that his value will have dropped a bit after his most marketable skill - being a 6'8" 3 point shooter - took a hit this year. Maybe not though - next year he's scheduled to be a good shooter again!
Tough row to hoe
The Jazz will be glad to be done with their current stretch of games. The Grizzlies will be the 5th straight opponent who is currently on track for the playoffs. The Jazz lost the previous 4, including a 124-86 shellacking at the hands of the Rockets.
Joe's neat-o fact-o-the-day
The Jazz have exactly as many wins (11) in 27 games vs. the East as they do in 41 games vs. the West.
The Bottom Line
The Grizzlies should win this game. Utah is the worst defensive team in the NBA, is terrible on the road, and has struggled within the Western Conference. Utah does have shooters and will likely try to exploit the Grizzlies tendency to rotate off shooters. If they get hot from deep it could be close, but otherwise look for the bench to get a lot of minutes tonight.