The 19-8 Memphis Grizzlies snapped a two game losing streak Saturday night at home against the Denver Nuggets 81-72. Next up for the Grizzlies is a New Year’s Eve matinee in Indianapolis against the 17-13 Indiana Pacers. (2:00 pm Central, Sports South, FS-Indiana, NBA LP) The Grizzlies are 2.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division. The Grizzlies would be the #4 seed in the West if the playoffs started today. Indiana is in a virtual tie with the Chicago Bulls for first place in the Central Division. Chicago is ahead by percentage points with a 16-12 record, and Milwaukee is a half game behind both teams.
Indiana is coached by Frank Vogel. The Pacers have gone 7-2 in their last 9 games. Indiana lost at the Atlanta Hawks Saturday 109-100. The loss snapped a 4 game winning streak for the Pacers. Memphis is coached by Lionel Hollins. Memphis has gone 5-2 in their last 7 games.
Memphis has beaten Indiana 5 straight times including 98-92 in Memphis last February in the only meeting between the teams last season. The Grizzlies have scored at least 98 points in 11 of the last 12 against the Pacers. Memphis forward Zach Randolph has 8 straight double-doubles against Indiana. Indiana forward David West has averaged 18.8 points in his career against the Grizzlies. Memphis will host Indiana on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day next month.
Memphis is outscoring teams 95-90 this season. They are first in the league in points allowed and are #21 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 43.6% from the field and 34.9% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #22 in field goal percentage and #17 in three point shooting. Memphis is #3 in the league in free throw shooting at 79.9% from the line. The Grizzlies average 43.1 rebounds per game and give up 39.5. Memphis is #2 in rebounds allowed and #10 in rebounding. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 43.5% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. Memphis is in the top 9 in the league in both categories. The Grizzlies average 21 assists, 9.4 steals, 5.5 blocks and 15.1 turnovers a game.
Small forward Rudy Gay averages 18.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks a game. Forward Zach Randolph averages 16.9 points, 12.4 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.3 assists per game. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding. Center Marc Gasol averages 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1 steal and 1.8 blocks per game to lead the team. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 13.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 6.3 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 and is one of the best defenders in the league. Pondexter is out indefinitely with a grade 2 MCL sprain.
Indiana is outscoring teams 92-91 this season. The pacers are #28 in scoring but second in points allowed. The Pacers are shooting 42.8% from the field and 34.3% from 3 point range. The Pacers are 21st or worse in both categories. Indiana is 23rd in free throw shooting making 73.1% from the line. The pacers are 5th in rebounding with 45.7 per game and 26th in rebounds allowed. Indiana leads the league in both opponent’s field goal percentage and three point defense. Pacer opponents are shooting 41.4% from the field and 31.3% from 3 point range. Indiana averages 19.9 assists, 6.2 steals, 6.97 blocks, and 15.2 turnovers per game.
West averages 17.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1 block a game. Small forward Paul George averages 16.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. Point guard George Hill averages 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1 steal a game. Center Roy Hibbert averages 9.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 2.7 blocks per game. Gerald Green averages 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Guard Lance Stephenson is questionable with a head injury. He averages 7.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Forwards Tyler Hansbrough and Sam Young, center Ian Mahinmi, and guard D.J. Augustin make up the rest of the rotation. Young is questionable with the flu Monday afternoon. Forward Danny Granger is out until mid-February as he recovers from knee surgery.
This should be a tough defensive contest as both of these teams are gritty blue collar teams that play great defense. Memphis is #1 in points allowed and Indiana is #2. I think this game will be played in the 80’s. Whatever happens I hope everyone has a great 2013, hopefully culminating with a victory parade down Beale Street in late June or early July.