Boston: 109.3 points/100 possessions (8th)
Memphis: 107.8 points/100 possessions (14th)
Boston: 98.6 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)
Memphis: 110.9 points allowed/100 possessions (28th)
Probable Grizzlies starters:
Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley
WHAT THE GRIZZ DO WELL:
Say it with me now…..uh oh. Yes the Celtics new potential achilles heel will be brought front and center tonight by the Grizz who statistically are the best offensive rebounding team in the league. Zach Randolph is the ringleader in this department, with him gathering 15.7 percent of all potential offensive boards, good for 2nd in the league behind Ben Wallace. Marc Gasol is also a top 20 rebounder in the league so those two guys are strong anchors down low. Perk, KG and Sheed will have their work cut out for them tonight.
Shoot from the 2 PT Range
The Grizz rank 8th in the league in FG Percentage at 47.4% despite shooting 31% from downtown. I’m not a math major so i won’t try to crunch those numbers but numbers wise The Grizz would have to be close, if not tops in the league from shooting inside the arc. Thus it will be crucial tonight for the C’s to cut off penetration and make Memphis fire away from deep.
WHAT THE GRIZZ DO POORLY:
Defense (Clap, Clap) Defense!
Celtics fans should be foaming at the mouth tonight for the potential of another offensive explosion and it comes for good reason. The Grizz are simply atrocious defensively. It doesn’t really matter what defensive statistical measurement you use, chances are they are at the bottom of the barrel for it, or at least close to it. Opponent FG Percentage, Opp 3 PT FG Percentage, Defensive Ratings, all in the bottom 3rd of the league. These guys don’t like to play D. And it shows.
Take care of the ball
No specific culprit here as Zach Randolph and the rest of this team’s young core of Gay, Mayo and Conley do their share coughing up the ball a couple of times a game. They rank 23rd in the league in turnover percentage, however this number has improved of late as has their overall play, winning 4 of the last 5.
PLAYER WHO MAKES ME WORRY:
Rudy Gay……and Zach Randolph?
Gay’s athleticism and strong all around play could prove to give Paul Pierce fits tonight as he attempts to defend him all over the floor. And I can’t believe I’m writing Randolph but he actually ranks 18th overall in the league in PER. So say all you want about his laziness, questionable shot selection, character, etc. but he is actually been a big help in Memphis this year? Will it last? Probably not. But for now, KG will need to be sure to keep him out of the paint and off the glass as much as possible, to ensure he stays out of rhythm.
I probably should be writing about Marc Gasol here too, but i expect The Beast to keep him in check tonight.
PLAYER WHO DOES NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
Conley has put together a nice season thus far leading this team from the point, but he is running into Rajon Rondo tonight who is on an absolute roll in all areas of the floor. Rondo will test Conley all over the hardwood this evening and will hound him on the defensive end. Look for a lot of turnovers from the young guard.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM THE C’s TONIGHT:
As I mentioned earlier, the Grizz don’t like to defend, so it would be wise for the C’s to jump out and move the ball early tonight to frustrate Memphis. The C’s need to assert themselves on the glass early as well to avoid offensive rebound debacles like the one we saw last week in San Antonio. Finally, defensively the C’s need to keep the young and athletic Grizz wingmen (Gay and Mayo) out of point and force them to shoot from the outside, where they have proven to be much less effective.
The Grizz are on a roll recently, winning 4 out of 5, including a blowout win last night in Miami and impressive home victories against Cleveland and Dallas. A home win tonight would certainly be an upset, but not a complete shocker as I’m sure it would be labeled. That being said, the Celtics are playing incredible basketball right now and make poor defensive teams like Memphis pay dearly on a regular basis with their terrific ball movement. I expect more of the same tonight.
Celtics 109, Grizzlies 97