After a three game losing streak last week, the Memphis Grizzlies have won three straight games to improve to 17-6 this season. The Grizzlies have regained the lead in the Southwest Division by percentage points over the San Antonio Spurs who are 19-8. Both teams trail the 21-5 Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the league. The Grizzlies are coming off a 90-80 home win over the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night.
Next up, is a date with the 12-14 Dallas Mavericks Friday night in Memphis. (7:00 pm Central, SportsSouth, FSN-Southwest, NBA League Pass). The Mavericks are coming off a 110-95 home loss last night to the Miami Heat. Dallas is tied with the Los Angeles Lakers. Both teams are a game and a half behind the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets who are tied for the #7 seed in the West. Memphis has beaten Dallas 4 of the last 5 times they have played, including a 94-89 win last April.
This game marks a return to Memphis for guard O.J. Mayo who played the first four years of his career for the Grizzlies. Mayo signed as a free agent with the Mavericks in the off-season. He has been the leading scorer so far for the Mavericks so far as forward Dirk Nowitzki has missed the entire season so far as he recovers from knee surgery. He is expected to be back in early January.
Dallas is being outscored 102-100 this season. The Mavericks are #10 in scoring but #27 in points allowed. Dallas is shooting 45.3% from the field and 36.6% from 3 point range. The Mavericks are in the top 10 in both categories. Dallas is #5 in free throw shooting at 79.5%. The Mavs average 40.9 rebounds per game, and give up 45.6. They are #23 in rebounds and last in rebounds allowed. Dallas opponents are shooting 44.3% from the field and 34.7% from three point range. The Mavericks are 12th or better in both categories. Dallas is averaging 22 assists, 7.9 steals, 5.5 blocks and 15.4 turnovers per game.
Dallas is coached by Rick Carlisle. Mayo averages 20.2 points, 4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Center Chris Kaman averages 14 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Point guard Darren Collison averages 12.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Guard Vince Carter averages 11.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Forward Shawn Marion averages 10.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1 steal a game. Guard Derek Fisher averages 8.6 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists a game. He is questionable with a kidney injury. Center Brandan Wright averages 8.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1 block per game. He is questionable with an ankle injury. Forward Elton Brand averages 6.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. He is questionable with a groin injury. Because of all the injuries, 15 players have averaged at least 12 minutes per game.
Memphis is outscoring teams 96-90 this season. They lead the league in points allowed and are #18 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 43.8% from the field and 36.7% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #19 in field goal percentage and #8 in three point shooting. Memphis is #3 in the league in free throw shooting at 80.1% from the line. The Grizzlies average 43.3 rebounds per game and give up 39.4. Memphis is #1 in rebounds allowed and #10 in rebounding. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 42.8% from the field and 33.3% from 3 point range. Memphis is in the top 5 in the league in both categories. The Grizzlies average 20.9 assists, 9.3 steals, 5.7 blocks and 15.2 turnovers a game.
Small forward Rudy Gay averages 18.4 points per game, 6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 steals and 1 block a game. Forward Zach Randolph averages 17.1 points, 12.9 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.2 assists per game. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding. Center Marc Gasol averages 14.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game to lead the team. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 13.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 2.4 steals a game to lead the team in the latter two categories. Guard Tony Allen, forward Marreese Speights, Bayless, forward Quincy Pondexter, Guard Wayne Ellington and forward Darrell Arthur make up the rest of the rotation. Allen starts at shooting guard. Arthur is questionable Friday with a concussion suffered last week against the Denver Nuggets.
The Mavericks give up the most rebounds to opponents and the Grizzlies give up the least. That will be the main difference in this game. Look for Gay to rebound from an off night Wednesday where he missed several wide open dunks and layups against Milwaukee. The Grizzlies spoil Mayo’s return and win handily.