NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 66:
Memphis Grizzlies (44-20) at Utah Jazz (33-32)
Will the quiet ESA put lull the Grizz into hibernation, or has their spring truly come?
These appear to be two teams heading in different directions. Both are post oriented small market teams that don't have any overt stars or are fawned on by the media. One has a young ownership group, made a big trade at the deadline, and seem to be holding down the fort at the #3 spot right now in the Western Conference. (Tied with the Los Angeles Clippers right now, but still...) The other team is now out of the playoffs, did not make any moves, did not shake anything up, and has a hard road ahead.
The largest difference has to be that the Grizzlies are playing well right now, and the Jazz are not. Since the All-Star Break, Memphis has won 11 of their 13 games. Their only losses have been to the streaking Miami Heat in Miami, and last night against the Denver Nuggets. In their stretch the Grizz have played 9 of their 11 games on the road, and have won 7 of those 9. They are on the last game of a four game road trip that had them beat the Trail Blazers then Clippers in a back to back game, drop last night in Denver, and face us tonight.
By comparison after the All-Star Break we've won only 3 of our 11 games. Only 6 of our 11 games have been on the road, and of our home games we've gone 3-2, with victories over the Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Bobcats, and Detroit Pistons.
- They have won 85% of their games after the All Star Break
- We have won 27% of our games after the All Star Break
- Tonight's game is at home
- On the road during the last 11 games, Memphis has won 78% of them
- At home during the last 11 games, Utah has won 60% of them
So we're going in different directions. As a result, tonight is a great trap game for Memphis, even if they are heightened by a desire to win as many games as possible, and are playing a good home team. They shouldn't be taking us for granted; though, they could. For the Jazz, we're playing a tired team that just played last night. We're only missing a questionable Jamaal Tinsley, they have been without Darrell Arthur for all but 46 games this year. (Poor Arthur, he's been injuries almost every year of his once promising career)
Memphis is a very good club. They are #1 in offensive rebounding percentage, they are #2 in causing the most turn overs on defense. They're #8 in defensive rebounding percentage as well, and shut teams down as the #7th best team on defense as per the opponents eFG%. They don't score a lot (26th ppg, 18th in ORTG), but they play defense like hungry bears (#1 in opponents ppg, #2 in opponents ORTG). They enjoy a slow pace and get things done.
We struggle precisely against these types of teams. But we're at home.
Roster-wise, we need to worry about Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. These are two former or current All-Stars who out perform our tandem of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Their trade for Tayshaun Prince combined with Tony Allen mean they also start and play two really solid wing defenders along with the ever improving Mike Conley. Their bench isn't scary, but guys like Jerryd Bayless seem to live for playing against us.
It'll be a tough game, but still a game we can win. But it's not going to be easy. (Which is the motto of our team in the second half of this season.)