NBA Regular Season: Utah Jazz at Memphis Grizzlies -- Game Preview

Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 4:

Utah Jazz (1-2) @ Memphis Grizzlies (1-1)

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The Basics:

This is our last game of this road trip, our first of three this month. It is the third game in four nights (as was the San Antonio Spurs game) -- but we had Sunday off. Memphis has not played a game since Friday, so they'll be way more rested than we will be. This is Memphis' Home Opener.

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History:

The Memphis Grizzlies played the Utah Jazz 3 times last season, with the Jazz taking the first two (one in Utah, one in their gym); and then dropped a late season game which would be our last loss before going on a 5 game win streak to end the season. So, uh, Silver lining?

The Jazz had the advantage in those three games because Zach Randolph was injured for the first two. Hey, we won those two games. Funny co-incidence, huh?

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The Game:

This is a big game for Memphis who have been off since Friday, and this is (as stated earlier) their first home game of the season. The Jazz would love to be flying home with a win on this road trip -- they 'dun goofed' on Friday night in New Orleans, and fought very hard to tie the game going into the 4th against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. But both times got the loss.

In the preseason I had this game as a Jazz loss, but in my mind, they can salvage the road trip with a win tonight. It's easier said than done because Memphis should be a Top 4 team in the Western Conference this season. Rudy Gay is averaging 21.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, and has always been a handful for us. Marc Gasol is averaging 20.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.0 apg, and 1.0 bpg while shooting 57.7 fg% and 91.7 ft% right now. He's a beast. Oh, and Z-Bo is averaging 15 and 15 right now. They are big, long, and athletic. And their starting five is solid all the way through with Mike Conley (who seems to never miss against us) and Tony Allen (who is one of the best wing defenders out there).

They aren't small, and we'll have the "benefit" of not having to play small ball tonight. Their only quality big off the bench is Marreese Speights, and he's shooting only 36.4 fg% right now. This game is going to be won (or lost) in the paint tonight.

On our side of things it's been our guards doing the heavy lifting. Millsap is only averaging 13.7 ppg, Al only 12.7, Derrick Favors 5.3, and Enes Kanter 2.7. This production would be great if your wings were Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. But those aren't the guys we have on our team. Our bigs were supposed to be our best chance to win, and biggest stars. They're going to, you know, at some point play big for us.

Yes, I see that Paul Millsap is getting 14 / 10, and Al 13 / 10. That's good. That's 27 / 20 (heavily rounding up); but the main problem with that tandem doesn't show up on the box score. It's not getting numbers, it's defense. And part of playing big is playing defense.

If our bigs played big in New Orleans -- there's no reason why that game is close. If we want to escape the Grizzlies and their size, we're going to have to 'out-big' them. We're not as fast as Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless. We're not more athletic than Rudy Gay and Wayne Ellington. We have to be big.

And right now the only thing big we've gotten out of those four is a big bill: $32.7 million locked up this season to those four guys. (48.7% of our entire 15 man roster salary, btw)

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Word from the Badguys:

We actually have a Jazz Jam session for this game, catch my answers at Straight Outta Vancouver over here!

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X-Factors:

Last season both of these teams did not like taking threes. Memphis was ranked #27 in threes made, #28 in threes taken, and #25 in three point %. The Jazz were ranked #28, #29, and #27 respectively. This off-season then-GM Kevin O'Connor brought in Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, Randy Foye, and draft pick Kevin Murphy to fix that problem. This season (so far) our ranks are #9, #12, and #13. Memphis, on the other hand, looks like the same 'ol Memphis from deep: #28, #28, #21.

So far this season the Grizzlies are taking 13.5 threes a game, and we're jacking up 18.3 threes a game. We're also making nearly 40% of them. (So far, knock on wood)

I'm calling it -- both of these teams are big inside, and there will be offensive rebounds, fouls, free throws, and points in the paint. The tipping point could be Utah's three point making. (The third part would be good floor spacing leading to open areas of the floor for guys off-the-ball to cut and score; we're not quite there yet) If the Jazz continue to shoot well from deep it could be a a significant X-Factor if our Bigs can hold up their end of the bargain.

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As an aside:

Man, I remember the Vancouver Grizzlies. I remember how our 90's Jazz team won the first 16 or 23 games against that franchise in a row. The 90's Jazz domination of Vancouver (and to a lesser extent, the Toronto Raptors) contributed GREATLY to how well Canadian TV and Media revere and respect the Utah Jazz. When I was living in Canada, Jazz regular season games were televised up there. A generation of Canadian bball fans grew up seeing more than just the flashy teams play -- and I felt like that was special. Part of that was due to how good we were, and how we did not used to play down to the competition back then. That's the type of basketball you wanted to watch growing up. Big DUH why Canadian Myck Kabongo wears #12 . . .

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Fearless Prediction:

Jazz win, because this is the DeMarre Carroll revenge game! Also, I'm not really sold on their bench. We're used to our starters getting blitzed early, but our bench helping us get back into games. Against the Spurs that did not happen, as our bench played as poorly as our starters did. The Grizzlies are for real, but their bench has scored only 43 points all year long. (21.5 PPG) Ours is averaging 26.7 ppg -- heck, Randy Foye has scored 40 points by himself so far this season.

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