Posted by: Kingsguru21 | November 2, 2009

Game 4: Grizzlies at Kings

Tonight is the home opener. And, tonight is going to be fun. A lot of offense and not a lot of defense. So, yeah.

The Memphis Grizzlies come into town sporting a 1-2 record. One of those losses was recorded last night at Denver, 133-123. (Didn’t I say to expect scoring?) The Grizzlies are currently 10th in the NBA at scoring with 104 ppg. (Kings are 25th in ppg with 91 ppg.) This is not my statistical analysis though so don’t worry.

If you like pre-game reading, here is the Bee Blog preview, the 3 shades of blue preview, the Memphis Commercial Appeal write up of last night’s game, some other notes (including talk about Thabeet), and the preview from Straight Outta Vancouver (if there is one–right now as of this moment there is not).

Now, I’ve gotten the preliminary bullshit outta the way. Let’s get at this thing. TZ has a great lil piece about whether steal defense has been effective for the Kings, and whether it has a realistic chance of succeeding. He also had a 4 factors post that is worth reading. (If you haven’t. I’m hoping you’ve already read this. I like the 4 factors methodology, and I’m going to be eventually referencing this more. So get yourself used to it, and use stuff like this to prep yourself.) Plus, read TZ’s actual pre-view of the game. (At least you will be getting something out of it.)

I could do this a position by position break down like what Chip Crain of 3sob did, but I don’t think it’s that necessary.

Tyreke Evans vs Mike Conley/Allen Iverson (I’m going to assume he’s playing) is obviously the major matchup that matters between these 2 teams.

Evans is big. Conley & Iverson (obviously) are not. If Evans can play both as tight as possible (particularly in Conley’s case), I think he can limit each player to a reasonably poor shooting night or worse. Offensively, I would love to see Evans play no farther than 10 feet away from the basket. If you’re going to be a big G in the NBA, beating up the little G’s should be your first goal. Conley & Iverson don’t play with Tim Duncan or Antonio McDyess so I think it’s reasonable that Evans will get whatever shot he wants in the paint.

Kevin Martin vs OJ Mayo. Neither guy is shooting very well this season (not a surprise for Mayo–he didn’t shoot well last season either), but Martin had an off-night shooting in New Orleans (along with JT) that dumped his FG% down. That’s okay. Those games do happen.

I think defensively this matchup will be a bit about who can get the shots they want off against each other. While I’m not greatly worried about Mayo drawing a lot of fouls on Martin (Even though Mayo scored 40 points last night, he only had 2 FT attempts) because Mayo doesn’t draw many fouls, I would like to see Martin be able to run with Mayo all night (especially considering that Mayo played last night in Denver) around screens and what not.

I think the 3rd most intriguing matchup is between Marc Gasol (Pau’s baby brother and no slouch) and Jason Thompson. Gasol absolutely has played out of his mind so far this season (averaging 21 & 11 on 73% shooting–yes that’s not a typo), and that’s with Zach Randolph on the court with him.

I would love to see JT alter some of Gasol’s shots and play effective low post defense, but more importantly I would love to see JT operate in the high post against Gasol for 2 reasons. The first is that JT’s best offensive weapons (not strength–weapons) are as follows: His ball-handling, his passing and his 15 footer. If Tyreke Evans is playing in the post all night, than JT can’t exactly play there. Yanno? Besides that, JT is currently leading the team in assists, and the facilitation may be as important as his actual scoring is. This is especially true given that JT has finished a very low % of his inside attempts so far this season.

For a lot of reason’s, I don’t really care about Rudy Gay and his contract issue’s. (I do not covet the following: David Lee, Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal–although few covet him anymore–or even OJ Mayo. Why is this important? No clue. Oh yes, I remember: Rudy Gay. Don’t want him now, or probably ever.)

Beyond these 3 matchup’s, I expect to see Hasheem Thabeet in the game more than the 12 mins he played last night. Hollins said to the MCA (Memphis Commercial Appeal) that there will be times against the heavy up-tempo teams that Thabeet won’t play. What’s interesting is that Thabeet did record 6 rebounds and 4 blocks in his time on the court. Yowzah.

The reason I say all this is because currently the Kings are the 24th slowest team in terms of pace, and that absolutely favors the way the Grizzlies have used Thabeet so far. (The Grizzlies have played at the 14th fastest pace.) If Spencer Hawes can score effectively against Thabeet (and I think he can) in the mid range/low post game, this could be one effective weapon for the Grizzlies the Kings neutralize tonight.

Overall, I think the Kings can win if they can get quality scoring attempts from Evans and Martin. If Hawes and Thompson can contribute the way both are capable, I think they are very capable of negating the potential looming advantage that Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph represent.

The Grizzlies are coming off a game last night in Denver, and that is a brutal travel turn-around. (Every team has to go through this though.)

The Kings can complain about going to San Antonio on a 2nd game of a b2b, but the necessary reality is that competing in the NBA requires you to put effort and find ways to do things you didn’t know you could do. It requires innovation, creativity, strength, fortitude (all that goody good bullshit) to succeed on the road.

The Grizzlies don’t have that. They’re one victory was against Toronto, and that’s not necessarily what anyone would consider a quality victory given that the Grizz lost to Detroit just 2 days earlier.

And, the Kings don’t have it either. It’s not like they are going to set the world on fire at Arco or anywhere else. So while I consider 20 wins at Arco to be a great improvement (the Kings won 11 times at Arco last season), it’s tonight where those wins would be necessary.

I think the Kings will win tonight because there is a sold out crowd, because they are not happy with the way they ended that road trip, and because Memphis may not have the necessary fire-power tonight to will themselves to victory after expending a ton of energy in Denver last night.

What I’m hoping for is that the Kings beat the Grizzlies tonight, and don’t merely keep themselves from losing. Slogging through the game with poor execution, finger pointing, or anger won’t do them much good. My hope is that if Spencer Hawes doesn’t start (and I doubt he will), that he goes as hard against the Grizz as he did vs the Spurs. He played extremely hard, and needs to repeat that performance as often as possible. (Every game would be preferable.) I would love to see Kevin Martin combine his facilitation against the Hornets with his efficiency against the Spurs. I would love to see Tyreke Evans put it all together. Watching Omri Casspi play well wouldn’t hurt either. (I know you people love him. I see him as having a ways to go.)

The Grizzlies can cure your ill’s as they are not a top tier team yet. They have considerable loads of talent, and the one thing that the Kings can’t afford to do is let their guard down. Playing hard is something that is required of a young team in the NBA.

Prediction: The Kings win a tight game that they should have won by more.

UPDATE: A montage with a voice-over from some guy whose name rhymes with Rant. (It is the Kings 25th season in Sacramento. Which is 10 years longer than any other stop. 9 years in Rochester, 15 years in Cincinnati, 13 years in Kansas City/Omaha, and now the last 25 years in Sactown. If you asked people that in 1985, they would have laughed.)

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