Since trading leading scorer forward Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors, the Memphis Grizzlies have lost 3 of their last 4 games. The Grizzlies are now 30-18 and 8 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division. The Grizzlies are also a game behind the Denver Nuggets for the #4 seed in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies open a crucial three game home stand against the 30-19 Golden State Warriors Friday night. The Warriors are a half game behind the Grizzlies for the #5 seed in the West. The home stand also includes games against the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday and Sacramento Kings Tuesday. It will take the Grizzlies to the All-Star Break.
Memphis lost Wednesday night at the Atlanta Hawks 103-92. The Warriors have lost 2 straight games after a 4 game winning streak. This is the third game of a 4 game road trip for the Warriors, and it hasn’t gotten off to a good start. Golden State was crushed 140-109 Tuesday night by the Houston Rockets and then lost 119-98 in Oklahoma City against the Thunder the next night.
Memphis has won 8 straight games against Golden State including both meetings in Oakland this year 104-94 in early November, and 94-87 last month. This is the last scheduled meeting between the teams but they could meet in the playoffs. Memphis has also beaten Golden State 7 straight times in Memphis dating back to 2008.
Golden State is coached by Mark Jackson. The Warriors are outscoring teams 101.2-100.7 this season. Golden State is #7 in scoring but #24 in points allowed. The Warriors are shooting 45.8% from the field and 39.4% from 3 point range. Golden State is #9 in field goal percentage and lead the league in 3 point shooting. The Warriors are #2 in free throw shooting at 80.2% from from the line. Golden State is #4 in rebounding at 44.7 per game, but #21 in rebounds allowed at 42.9 per game. The Warriors are shooting 43.8% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. Golden State is #5 in both categories. The Warriors average 23.2 assists, 6.8 steals, 4.1 blocks, and 15.2 turnovers.
Guard Stephen Curry averages 20.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Power forward David Lee averages 19.2 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Guard Klay Thompson averages 16.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. Point guard Jarrett Jack averages 12.8 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game. He is doubtful with a shoulder injury. Forward Carl Landry averages 11.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Forward Harrison Barnes averages 9.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. Center Andrew Bogut has only played in 8 games this season after a serious ankle injury. He is probable Friday night. Bogut is averaging 8.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game. Guard Brandon Rush is out for the season with a knee injury.
The Grizzlies are coached by Lionel Hollins. Memphis is outscoring teams 93-90 this season. They are first in the league in points allowed and are #27 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 43.6% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #24 in field goal percentage and #26 in three point shooting. Memphis is #5 in the league in free throw shooting at 79.1% from the line. The Grizzlies average 42.9 rebounds per game and give up 38.9. Memphis is #1 in rebounds allowed and #12 in rebounding. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 44.1% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. Memphis is #9 in opponents’ field goal percentage and #15 in 3 point defense. The Grizzlies average 20.6 assists, 9 steals, 5.2 blocks and 14.8 turnovers a game.
Forward Zach Randolph averages 15.7 points, 11.7 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.5 assists per game. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding, and was chosen a a reserve for the Western Conference All-Star team. He leads the league in double doubles with 29. Randolph had been the subject of trade rumors, but that probably won’t happen with the Gay trade and with the cost saving trade involving 3 reserves the Grizzlies made with the Cleveland Cavaliers two weeks ago. Center Marc Gasol averages 13.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, a steal, and 1.7 blocks per game. Point Guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 13.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.3 steals a game to lead the team in the latter two categories. Forward Tayshawn Prince was acquired from the Detroit Pistons in the Gay deal. He is averaging 11.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game this season between both teams. Tony Allen starts at shooting guard and is one of the best defenders in the league. Allen averages 8.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Point guard Jerryd Bayless, forward Quincy Pondexter, forward Darrell Arthur, guard Tony Wroten, and forwards Ed Davis and Austin Daye make up the rest of the rotation. Forward Jon Leuer was acquired in the trade with the Cavaliers. Pondexter is out indefinitely with a grade 2 MCL sprain. The Grizzlies also called up forward Chris Johnson from the D-League to fill out the roster.
We knew that the Grizzlies would have a hard time with chemistry having acquired 5 new players in the past 2 weeks. However, it really hasn’t affected them on offense, but surprisingly on defense. The Grizzlies are built on defense and rebounding, but have given up at least 96 points in 3 of their last 4 games since the Gay trade. Prince is considered a better defender than Gay so it shouldn’t be an issue. I think the Grizzlies will eb fine once they get a few games under their belt. As for this game tonight, I think the Grizzlies win a close game in a shootout against a Warriors team that ahs given up 259 points in their last 2 games.