Tomorrow (Wednesday) night the Memphis Grizzlies will be at the Palace to play the Pistons at 7:30pm EST. The Pistons are coming off an ugly loss to the hornets and the Grizzlies are coming off a close win against the Suns. The Pistons have one day off before the game, ~~the Grizz have 2.~~ The Grizz are on the second game of a back to back. My bad. Thank you to /u/whoslebron for pointing that out. I'm doing this while studying for Finals so I was a wee bit distracted lol.
The Them: The Grizzlies have been, not that good this year. Despite a similar record, they are the exact opposite of the Hornets. The Hornets are almost certainly better than their record indicates, the Grizzlies are, quite frankly, lucky to have the record they do. The Memphis defense is not its usual dominant self, and actually just not all that good DefRtg of 102.7, which is a very mediocre number that is just a bit in the back half of the NBA. The offense is still the similar mediocre unit it has been in years past however, sitting at 99.2. (which also falls on the early part of the back end of the NBA) It is odd to say for a team that has been really good for the past several years, but so fart this season, Memphis is just a mediocre team. I personally would think that they will turn it around at some point because while guys are getting older and whatnot, there is not enough that has changed to think they would fall this far. The Grizz still boast one of the better front courts in basketball with the brothers-from-different-mothers Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Marc Gasol is main catalyst on both ends, leading the team in scoring at 16.3ppg, Gasol is also an excellent passer from center with 3.8 assists per game. (insert Zach Lowe wet dream about Gasol passing here) Gasol is certainly capable of posting up, but a lot of his buckets come in the pick and pop around the elbows areas, as well as goofy dribble drives as well. Zach Randolph is scoring less than usual this year at 14ppg, but he is still very good. Scoring in a variety of goofy-ass "jump" shots and fat man drives to the hoop. He also still eats up a lot of boards from the PF position with 8.5 per game. Mike Conley is the starting PG for the Grizz and he is also very good, 15 points and 6 assists per game to go along with generally excellent D (although his D has been a wee bit off this year according to the eye test.) HOWEVA, for anyone who has followed the NBA closely the past few years, even though those 3 guys are still very good, they have all been not quite so good so far this year. It may be that they are getting to old, maybe something else entirely, but for some reason all 3 of them are a bit off. (but make no mistake, those 3 are still really good and are the absolute core of this team.) Beyond those 3, on the wings Jeff Green, Matt Barnes, and Courtney Lee make for a pretty solid trio of 2 way wings. Green has some bounce going to the rim, Lee can play defense, and Matt Barnes is still doing his "really tough asshole" thing. All 3 of them however are ice cold shooting the ball to start the year. (which is something the Pistons can relate to) And The Grindfather, Tony Allen, has gotten even worse on offense (if that is possible) and also has not looked quite his usual insanely good defensive self so far. Mario Chalmers has been very good for the Grizz in the backup PG role for them since the trade, and some guy named JaMychal Green is getting most of the minutes at center with Brandon Wright injured. Those are the main guys in the rotation, Vince Carter and Russ Smith might make a few cameos as well. All in all, this is a team that has a lot of good players, but in simple terms, they are all not playing that good. As such, I personally would think that at some point they will turn it around and find themselves in the thick of it by the end of the season. But so far this year they have been really pretty mediocre.
Matchups to watch:
- Zbo vs. Ersan/whoever is PF: Zbo is old, and does not score as much as he used to. HOWEVA, he can still absolutely get it done, and Ersan does not figure to have a whole lot of chance to stop him in really any ways. As such Zbo could end up going off for a big night, on the other end of the court however, Zbo can, at times, struggle to scurry around the perimeter with shooters. So Ersan figures to get a few good looks as well. This will be a pretty important comparison, can either guy keep the other from getting lots of good looks?
- Andre vs. Big Spain: Andre had a rough night in Charlotte, and should be rested and hungry for blood. Gasol is not quite as good as he has been, but he is still 1. really good. 2. really big. Gasol is one a guy who absolutely has a chance to straight up outplay Drummond. Gasol is big and strong, and also hella smart. Andre is stronger and more athletic so he should be able to mostly get his numbers still, but he will have to work hard for them. The other thing is that Drummond has often struggled to adjust to guys who have jumpers, and if Andre does his usual thing and just sits back in the paint and gives away free jump shots, then Gasol will probably kill the Pistons. All in all though, Andre still has not really done anything to change my mind about him stepping into the role of absolutely dominant force. As such I have faith that Andre will win this matchup, but it will still be hugely important. As these two are the best players on their team.
- Reggie vs. Not sucking: Following a well deserved player of the week award, Reggie laid an absolute egg against Charlotte. He has got to be better than that, and Conley is a much better defender than Kemba Walker, so Reggie will have to be on his game. (on both ends) Throw in the fact that Gasol is the sort of ace defender who will make things very hard for the Reggie/Andre PnR and he will have to be able to make good decisions consistently. All that said though, I have faith that Reggie because he has bounced back strong each time he has laid a dud. Plus he [has a thing for killing the Grizz.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eHfcxEPlOA)
- Greater Morris vs. Smaller people: Morris figures to get some time guarded by guys who are a bit smaller than he is, and he has generally killed teams who do that this year. Just something to watch.
- Bench vs. Trainwreck: They've (appeared) to been a bit better as of late, but until there is a real sustained stretch of mediocrity from the bench, this has to be a thing unfortunately.
So in conclusion
Cackle with knowing glee if:
- Andre is awesome and beats Gasol to a pulp inside.
- Reggie is truly a Grizzly hunter.
- Ersan is getting lots of open looks.
Run for [the hills](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzTuBuRdAyA) if:
- Gasol's shooting is giving serious trouble to Andre.
- Zbo is beating the hell out of Ersan every trip.
- Reggie is broken.
- The Grizz decide to pull it all together against the Pistons.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
- Reggie has a big bounce back game.
- Andre vs. Gasol is hella entertaining.
- Ersan holds up pretty well against Zbo, while being a real problem on the other end.
- The Grizz are still not right, and the Pistons have a fire under their butt's and have a somewhat comfortable victory.
This is hard for me, because I keep having to remind myself that this Grizzlies team is not the same one as the past few years, and that literally all the numbers say that this game should really be a pretty easy win for the Pistons. Maybe I am stupid, but I suppose I just have too much respect for the Grizz to believe that they are broken yet.
What do you think? Think Gasol will kill Andre? Think Reggie will bounce back? Will Steve Blake cause me to kill a small animal? Let me know!
P.S. [You should totally follow me on twitter.](https://twitter.com/Joe_Truck)