The Grizzlies lost their first game of the season on Halloween at the Los Angeles Clippers. They haven’t lost since and now have the NBA’s best record at 7-1. Last night. the Grizzlies beat the previously unbeaten Knicks last night in Memphis 105-95.
Now the Grizzlies travel to Charlotte to take on the surprising Bobcats Saturday night. The Bobcats are 4-3 this season after winning only 7 games all last season in the 66 game lockout shortened season. It was the worst winning percentage of any team in league history. The Bobcats have won 3 straight games after starting off 1-3. They haven’t played since Wednesday when they beat Minnesota 89-87 in Minneapolis. The Bobcats had a 16 point lead but the Timberwolves came back. It took a jumper by Charlotte guard Kemba Walker with 0.7 seconds left to get the win.
Memphis is looking for their first 8 game winning streak since 2004 when they would go on to win 50 games, a franchise record. The current streak includes wins over last year’s finalists Miami and Oklahoma City, along with playoff teams Utah and New York.
Memphis and Charlotte met one time last year in late April near the end of the season. The Grizzlies were down 13 in that contest but rallied for the 85-80 win. Charlotte had won 5 of the previous six meetings before that contest.
For the season Memphis is outscoring teams 102-93 this season. The Grizzlies are shooting 44.3% from the field and 38.6% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are making 81.3% from the free throw line. Memphis is averaging 42.6 rebounds per game and giving up 39.5 per game. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 44.5% from the field and 36% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies average 13.4 turnovers a game. Memphis is in the top 10 in the league in scoring, points allowed, 3 point percentage, free throw percentage and and rebounds allowed.
Charlotte is being outscored 100-97 this season. The Bobcats are shooting 42.6% from the field and 28.9% from 3 point range. Charlotte is dead last in 3 point shooting in the league. The Bobcats make 77.2% of their free throws. Charlotte is #8 in rebounds with 43.6 per game, but they are last in rebounds allowed with 47.3. Charlotte opponents are shooting 43.9% from the field and 36.7% from 3 point percentage. The Bobcats average 13.9 turnovers a game.
Here is a look at how the teams match-up.
Charlotte is coached by Mike Dunlap in his first year. A long time assistant in the NBA, his hiring was met with disbelief and dismay by Bobcat fans. However, he could be a candidate for coach of the year, as he could reach 7 wins by the end of November.
Memphis is coached by Lionel Hollins. He has led the Grizzlies to the playoffs the last two years. Dunlap has done a great job so far, but I give the edge to the veteran Hollins.
Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the #1 pick for the Bobcats. He is averaging 11.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.7 blocks a game. Reggie Williams will come off the bench for the Bobcats.
Rudy Gay leads the Grizzlies in scoring with 20.3 points, 6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. Quincy Pondexter will come off the bench to spell Gay.
Kidd-Gilchrist is very talented but I give the edge to the Grizzlies.
Byron Mullins is averaging 11.3 points, 9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1 steal and 1.1 blocks a game. Mullins is questionable with an ankle injury Saturday night. He is backed up by Tyrus Thomas. The Bobcats acquired forward Hakim Warrick from the New Orleans Hornets this week for Matt Carroll. Warrick will add depth to the forward position.
Zach Randolph averages 17.1 points and 14.1 rebounds. He is still awaiting a decision from the league regarding a possible suspension for an incident last Wednesday against Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins. Marreesse Speights will come off the bench.
Randolph is one of the best power forwards in the league and should dominate especially if Mullins is out.
Brendan Haywood is averaging 7.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1 block a game. He is backed up by Bismack Biyombo and DiSagana Diop.
Marc Gasol is averaging 15.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.3 blocks a game. Darrell Arthur is is normal back-up but he out until early December with a stress fracture.
Gasol has a heavy advantage down low, but Haywood is a solid defender though.
Gerald Henderson is out until early December with a broken foot. He has been replaced in the starting line-up by rookie Jeffrey Taylor. Taylor is averaging 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds. Ben Gordon is averaging 14.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game. He is questionable tonight for personal reasons.
Tony Allen starts at shooting guard mainly for his defense. He is averaging 6.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals a game. Wayne Ellington averages 7.8 points a game off the bench.
Without Henderson and possibly Gordon, the edge goes to the Grizzlies.
Walker is averaging 19 points a game to lead the Bobcats in scoring, along with 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 2.9 steals per game. Ramon Sessions is the second leading scorer with 16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game off the bench.
Mike Conley Jr. averages 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 7 assists and 1.8 steals a game. He is backed up by Jerryd Bayless.
The point guard position is pretty much even in this game.
Memphis is clearly a better team than the young Bobcats, but this could be a dangerous game for the Grizzlies. After double digit wins over Miami, OKC, and New York last night, Memphis might find it difficult to get motivated on the road with a 5 game home stand coming up. Plus the players are human and have families, so Thanksgiving could be a distraction as well.