Recently for Memphis
Last time we saw the Grizzlies on the court they looked frustrated, disinterested, and quite ugly. Not ugly as individual people (they're quite beautiful, actually) but as a collective organism. They have become this hairless, mutated lab rat with hands coming out of its throat - that kind of ugly. Quick log from Tuesday in Detroit: Marc Gasol was trying to make basketballs explode, the bench went ice cold, Dave Joerger was jilted in post-game handshakes again, and Zach Randolph called the Grizzlies "soft". It was the worst of times in a season that has largely been the best of times.
But it's likely that the Grizzlies have put the travesty of Tuesday behind them as they were reportedly looking very upbeat at practice on Thursday. A day off from the grind (with a specific nudge to 'let it go', perhaps?) can perform wonders like that. Additionally, many around the Griz-o-sphere believe we'll see a rejuvenated Mike Conley, Jr. back on the court in Dallas tonight; you know that'll cheer some people up. And btw, if we're going to choose to remember anything from earlier in the week, how about Vince Carter and Jeff Green going a respective 4/6 and 3/3 from beyond the arc? Cognitive dissonance, y'all. It feels so good.
Recently for Dallas
The team that has had serious issues on offense over the past month has finally seen some elements come together for them in the past three games, in which they've averaged 118 PPG. Their past two contests have seen Rajon Rondo record double-digit assists for the 3rd and 4th time since joining the Mavericks in mid-December. And oh look, Dirk is shooting 53% from three in the month of March. This will be the final game of a Mavs 5-game home stand that has been a godsend to their chemistry.
What I'm watching for tonight
- Passing Fancy. I'll be playing close attention to the timing and velocity of the Grizzlies' passes. To me, the inconsistency of those qualities in their ball movement has been the most frustrating part of their recent slump. Zach needs the ball cleanly in the post so he's not trying to adjust his grip while sizing someone up. Courtney Lee needs accurate passes that allow him to set his feet correctly behind the arc. All of the slashers and cutters need decisive throws to make the most of their movement through a crowded key. The Grizzlies need some zip and special attention on their passing tonight so they keep the turnovers down and maximize possessions against a team that can score a ton of points.
- Body language. We talked a bit about this on GBBLive last night, specifically in reference to Marc Gasol. Perhaps it's not entirely fair to Marc (life isn't so why should I be?), but Big Spain will always stand out on the court because he's very demonstrative, animated, and emotional ... and he's 7'1. Right now, the Grizzlies need active leadership in ways other than just stats and attempted shots. We love you Marc. We particularly love you when you're frolicking through center court and slapping yourself on the ass with satisfying glee. We need self-buttslap Marc again.
- Random-not-so-random call out. Kosta Koufos has not been playing good basketball. He's shot 1/3 from the floor in each of the last three games (43% overall in March), and he's fouling people like he's Hamed Haddadi. Check it: in the past five games Kosta has 22 points to go with 17 personal fouls. Like most everyone's been saying: this hasn't been the struggles or one or two people; it's a defunct hive. Koufos is just one of the players who needs to pick things up a little down the stretch.
MIKE CONLEY - Right Ankle Sprain. Questionable*
*The Grizzlies' official media notes still list Beno Udrih as the probable starter for tonight. I personally believe that Conley will end up at least starting and giving things a try tonight, but I will update you all with the official word as soon as I'm made aware.
|2015 NBA Season
47-21 (21-14 road)
44-25 (24-11 home)
|March 20th, 2015
|American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX
|Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
|Beno Udrih||PG||Rajon Rondo|
|Courtney Lee||SG||Monta Ellis|
|Zach Randolph||PF||Dirk Nowitzki|
|Marc Gasol||C||Tyson Chandler|
|2015 Advanced Stats|
|94.3 (26th)||Pace||96.9 (10th)|
|103.2 (14th)||OffEff||107.7 (T-4th)|
|100.1 (T-5th)||DefEff||102.9 (16th)|