The 2-1 Memphis Grizzlies travel to the 2-0 Milwaukee Bucks Wdnesday night. The Grizzlies have beaten the Bucks 3 straight times including 99-95 in the only meeting between the teams last season.
Memphis is looking to improve to 3-1 under coach Lionel Hollins. The Grizzlies won their home opener Monday night 103-94 against the Utah Jazz. Memphis was down early 19-7 due to some cold shooting from the field but hung around thanks to excellent free throw shooting. The Grizzlies took the lead for good in the third thanks to a 16-2 run late in the quarter.
Memphis center Marc Gasol is averaging 21 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 1.7 block per game. Gasol leads the Grizzlies in scoring, assists and blocks. Small forward Rudy Gay is averaging 19.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1.3 blocks a game. Power forward Zach Randolph is averaging 15.3 points, 16 rebounds to lead the team, 1.3 assists, and 1 steal a game. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. is averaging 14.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 3 steals a game. He leads the Grizzlies in steals. Tony Allen, Quincy Pondexter, and Wayne Ellington also contribute to the scoring. Forward Darrell Arthur is out indefinitely as he recovers from a stress fracture.
The Grizzlies are outscoring teams 99.7-96.3 this season. Memphis is shooting 41.7% from the field as a team, and 31.7% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #2 in free throw shooting making 83.1% from the line. Memphis averages 45 rebounds per game, and is #5 in rebounding in the league. Memphis opponents are shooting 46.7% from the field, including 40% from the free throw line. Grizzly opponents average 39 rebounds per game. Memphis is #4 in rebounds allowed. The Grizzlies average 15.7 turnovers per game and force 18.7 per game.
Milwaukee is looking for their first 3-0 start since 2005. The Bucks are in first place in the Central Division early in the season under coach Scott Skiles. They haven’t played since back-to-back wins over Boston and Cleveland on Friday and Saturday.
The Bucks are outscoring teams 102-95 this season. Milwaukee is #7 in scoring and #10 in points allowed, but again they have only played 2 games. The Bucks are shooting 49.1% from the field and 40.5% from 3 point range. Milwaukee is making 75.8% from the free throw line. The Bucks are averaging 41.5 rebounds per game and opponents are averaging 39. Milwaukee opponents are shooting 45.9% from the field and 36.7% from 3 point range. The Bucks average 18 turnovers a game and force 17.
Milwaukee has 6 players averaging double digits in scoring. Point guard Monta Ellis averages 18.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block a game. Small forward Mike Dunleavy averages 18 points, 9 rebounds to lead the team, 4 assists, and 2 steals a game. Point guard Brandon Jennings is scoring 17 points, along with 3 rebounds, 13 assists, and 4 steals per game to lead the team in the latter two categories. Center Larry Sanders averages 13.5 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks to lead the team. Forward Tobias Harris is averaging 11 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. Beno Udrih is averaging 10.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He is out with a quadricep injury. Rookie forward John Henson, the Bucks’ #1 draft pick, is questionable to make his debut after missing the first two games due to a sprained knee.
Although both of these teams have gotten off to good starts, they do need to clean up some mistakes like turnovers. Part of that is the jelling process that takes place at the beginning of the season every year, and they will get better the more games they play. Memphis has the advantage in rebounding, but Milwaukee’s quick guards could be a problem. The Grizzlies have had some defensive lapses this season, and they need to eliminate those quickly. I think Milwaukee wins a close game at home but it wouldn’t be a total shock to see Memphis continue their winning streak against the Bucks.