The last time the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers played it was New Year’s Eve afternoon in Indianapolis. The Pacers won that game 88-83. I don’t know what it is about holiday afternoon games, but the two teams will play again in Memphis on Martin Luther King Day (12:00 pm Central, TV: ESPN) Monday.
The 25-16 Indiana Pacers lead the Central Division by a game over the Chicago Bulls. The Pacers are currently the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference, but only 3 1/2 games separate the top 5 seeds in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers won at home against the Houston Rockets 105-95 Friday night.
The 26-13 Memphis Grizzlies are 4 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division. If the Grizzlies were in the Eastern Conference, they would be the #2 seed only a half game behind the first place Miami Heat. Unfortunately, they are in the West, and would be the #4 seed if the playoffs started today. The Grizzlies have won 2 straight games, including an 85-82 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls Saturday night in Chicago. The Grizzlies start a 4 game home stand with Monday’s game. Since they returned from a 3 game road trip January 9, the Grizzlies have alternated home and away games for the last 7 games.
Memphis has won the last 4 at home against Indiana. The Pacers haven’t swept the Grizzlies in a season since 2006-07. The two teams only played once last season because of the lockout shortened season, with the Grizzlies winning at home.
Indiana is coached by Frank Vogel. Indiana is outscoring teams 92-89 this season. The Pacers are #29 in scoring but lead the league in points allowed. The Pacers are shooting 42.2% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. The Pacers are 23rd or worse in both categories. Indiana is 23rd in free throw shooting making 73.9% from the line. The Pacers are #1 in rebounding with 46.3 per game and 10th in rebounds allowed with 41.7. Indiana leads the league in opponent’s field goal percentage, and is 4th in three point defense. Pacer opponents are shooting 41.3% from the field and 32.8% from 3 point range. Indiana averages 19.8 assists, 6.7 steals, 6.9 blocks, and 14.9 turnovers per game.
Small forward Paul George averages 17.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.8 steals a game. Power forward David West averages 16.6 points, 8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1 block a game. Point guard George Hill averages 14.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1 steal a game. Center Roy Hibbert averages 9.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 2.7 blocks per game. Gerald Green averages 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He is questionable with an illess. Guard Lance Stephenson averages 7.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists per game and a steal per game. Forwards Tyler Hansbrough and Sam Young, center Ian Mahinmi, and guard D.J. Augustin make up the rest of the rotation. Mahinmi is questionable with the flu Monday afternoon. Forward Danny Granger is out until mid-February as he recovers from knee surgery.
The Grizzlies are coached by Lionel Hollins. Memphis is outscoring teams 93-90 this season. They are second in the league in points allowed and are #26 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 43.3% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #24 in field goal percentage and #22 in three point shooting. Memphis is #5 in the league in free throw shooting at 79% from the line. The Grizzlies average 42.9 rebounds per game and give up 39.3. Memphis is #1 in rebounds allowed and #11 in rebounding. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 43.3% from the field and 35.5% from 3 point range. Memphis is #5 in opponents’ field goal percentage and #14 in 3 point defense. The Grizzlies average 20.5 assists, 9.2 steals, 5.4 blocks and 14.9 turnovers a game.
Small forward Rudy Gay averages 17.6 points per game, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals a game. Forward Zach Randolph averages 16.3 points, 11.8 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.4 assists per game. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding, and will likely be chosen as a reserve for the Western Conference All-Star team. Both Gay and Randolph have been the subject of trade rumors despite the great start of the Grizzlies. Center Marc Gasol averages 13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, a steal, and 1.9 blocks per game. Point Guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 13.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2.3 steals a game to lead the team in the latter two categories. Tony Allen starts at shooting guard and is one of the best defenders in the league. Allen averages 8.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Forward Marreese Speights, point guard Jerryd Bayless, forward Quincy Pondexter, Guard Wayne Ellington and forward Darrell Arthur make up the rest of the rotation. Pondexter is out indefinitely with a grade 2 MCL sprain.
These are the two best defensive teams in the league. Both teams give up 90 points or less per game. No other team gives up less than 91.7 points per game. I could see another score similar to their game last month, with the first team to 90 winning . It will be a tough gritty game regardless of who wins.