Grizzlies Resume After 3 Day Christmas Break Against 76ers


Feb 21, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay (22) drives as Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young 921) defends at the FedEx Forum. Memphis defeated Philadelphia 89-76. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The 18-7 Memphis Grizzlies are coming off their worst loss of the season Saturday night in Houston 121-96. It didn’t make for a very nice 3 day holiday break for the Grizzlies as they are now a game behind the 21-8 San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division.The loss also snapped a 4 game winning streak for the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies, coached by Lionel Hollins, resume their season Wednesday night at the FedEx Forum against the 13-15 Philadelphia 76ers (7:00 pm Central, SportsSouth, CSN-Philadelphia). The 76ers, coached by Doug Collins, are currently a game and a half out of the the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia has lost 6 of their last 7 games, including Sunday at the Brooklyn Nets 95-92.

The 76ers have also lost 6 straight road games. Memphis is 12-2 at home this season. Philadelphia better solve their road woes in a hurry because this is the second game in a grueling 8 game road trip that includes games at teams like the Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs.  The 76ers won’t return home until January 8, 2013.

Memphis has beaten Philadelphia 3 straight times including 89-76 in February in Memphis. That was the only meeting between the teams last year in the lockout shortened season. The Grizzlies will play in Philadelphia January 28.

Philadelphia is being outscored 96-93 this season. The 76ers are #25 in scoring and #10 in points allowed in the league. Philadelphia is shooting 43.7% from the field and 36.1% from 3 point range. The 76ers make 73.2% of their free throws. Philadelphia averages 41.4 rebounds per game and gives up 43.3 rebounds to opponents. Sixer opponents are shooting 45.3% from the field including 37.2% from 3 point range. Philadelphia averages 21.5 assists, 7.6 steals, 5.1 blocks and 12.3 turnovers a game.

Point guard Jrue Holiday averages 18.3 points, 4 rebounds, 8.8 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. Small forward Evan Turner is scoring 15.3 points per game, and also averages 6.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Small forward Thaddeus Young  averages 15.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Shooting guard Jason Richardson averages 11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is out with a lower back strain Wednesday night. Shooting guard Nick Young averages 10 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Center Spencer Hawes averages 9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game. Forwards Dorell Wright, Lavoy Allen, Center Kwame Brown, and point guard Royal Ivey make up the rest of the rotation. Guard Malik Wayns is questionable with a foot injury. All-Star center Andrew Bynum is  out indefinitely with a knee injury.

Memphis is outscoring teams 96-92 this season. They are second in the league in points allowed and are #18 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 44% from the field and 35.4% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #18 in field goal percentage and #11 in three point shooting. Memphis is #3 in the league in free throw shooting at 80.1% from the line. The Grizzlies average 43.2 rebounds per game and give up 39.5. Memphis is #2 in rebounds allowed and #9 in rebounding. Grizzlies’ opponents are  shooting 43.2% from the field and 33.7% from 3 point range. Memphis is in the top 6 in the league in both categories. The Grizzlies average 21.1 assists, 9.4 steals, 5.6 blocks and 15.4 turnovers a game.

Small forward Rudy Gay averages 18.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks a game. Forward Zach Randolph averages 16.8 points, 12.8 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.3 assists per game. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding. Center Marc Gasol averages 14.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game to lead the team. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 13.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2.5 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. Ellington is questionable with a back injury.

The key to this game will be if Conley can contain the quick and talented Holiday. The loss of Richardson will hurt the 76er depth in the rotation. I think the Grizzlies get back to their defensive intensity that has been the hallmark of their success this season. Grizzlies win handily.