As they saying goes, old habits die hard, and tonight, the Grizzlies will need to avoid falling victim to one of their worst habits: playing down to weak competition. They will be playing against the Charlotte Bobcats, one of the worst teams in the league. It’s a fine opportunity to pick up an easy win, and increase their chances of landing the 3-seed. Unfortunately, this team tends to have the biggest troubles with the teams that should go down easy.
On Sunday night, they played a weak Sacramento Kings team, and narrowly escaped with a 89-87 victory. With so much on the line, playing against a lottery team, that should’ve been an easy win. Unfortunately, whenever the Grizzlies seem to think a win will be easy, they lay off the gas pedal. if they want to pick up W against Charlotte tonight, they need to avoid falling into that trap. While the Bobcats are not an especially skilled team, they are resilient, and they won’t let the Grizz walk all over them without a serious fight.
In recent weeks, the lowly Bobcats haven’t actually looked quite so lowly. Granted, they’re still losing the majority of their games, but they’ve had some close battles that have illustrated a gradually improving team which will be making its way out of the cellar before too long. One of their most notable developments has been they emergence of Gerald Henderson. over his first four years in the league, Henderson has been quietly effective, putting up decent numbers while not making much of an impression of the league. In recent weeks, however, he’s broken out, and looks a legitimate scoring threat. In March, he averaged 20.1 points per game in 16 games, while he’s averaged 18.5 ppg so far in April. He’s given the rest of the league a notice that he’s capable of being a first-option scorer, and when he hits the free agent market this summer, he could be an alluring option for many teams.
Of course, the biggest draw on this Bobcats team is second-year point guard Kemba Walker , who lead UConn to a title two years ago, and is looking more and more like a quality NBA point guard. he has excellent athleticism, and can drive to the hoop as well as any guard this side of Derrick Rose. Being trapped on this poor Bobcats group has prevented Walker’s improved play from getting publicity, but he’s a young guard to watch, and as the Bobcats get better and better, you’ll be hearing about him more and more.
Up front, Byron Mullens is a poor shooter, but he does have more range than most centers. He’s the exact opposite of Bismack Biyombo, who is somewhat effective in the post, but has an extremely limited offensive game. In any event these two will have their hands full with Marc and Z-Bo, who will likely thrive against such an unpolished pairing.
For the Grizzlies tonight, it’s simple; if they can avoid playing down the Bobcats level, and play with the same intensity as when they play the Clippers or the Heat, they’ll win easily. If not, they could be in for a very long night against a Bobcats team that has more talent than would might expect, and is just waiting to catch the Grizzlies off-guard.