The Scouting Report: Memphis Grizzlies
Projected starting line-up: Beno Udrih, Tony Allen, Courtney Lee, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
New addition: Jeff Green
Notable departure: Tayshaun Prince
The Memphis Grizzlies are contenders this year and they’re clearly going all-in. They made a huge trade acquiring Jeff Green from the Boston Celtics solidifying their depth and giving them versatility on both ends.
The Grizzlies looked like world beaters to start the season but they started to slip after that wonderful start. The went 8-6 in December after starting 13-2, tied for the best record in the league. Life in the NBA only gets tougher the longer you go and knowing that, the Grizzlies pulled the trigger on Green.
Green gives the Grizzlies a lot of things that they didn’t really have in positional versatility on the wing between both forward spots. Green is very athletic for his size and you absolutely cannot let him get to the rim on his dominant hand. He isn’t a great offensive player but if you let him go right he will burn you and maybe even dunk on you.
Green had 21 points for the Grizz on Friday in their win at Orlando but he has yet to make a 3-pointer in two games. He’s shooting 30 percent from long-range so far this season. Percentages being the way they are, he’ll probably make at least one trey tonight.
Vince Carter also only played seven minutes for Memphis and the Green move could also be big for Carter, allowing him to rest more in the regular season. But while the Green add is very intriguing, priority number one for the Blazers tonight minus two centers is Marc Gasol.
Gasol has morphed into a more aggressive and more dominant offensive player this season. He looks like he’s in the best shape of his career and he’s more frequently takes over games by trying to get his own shot. Before, Gasol usually functioned as the team’s other facilitator. And he still can be what his pal Victor Claver called him last season: a big point guard.
The Grizzlies put together the best win by a team at the Moda Center, at least in terms of margin of victory. Although the Atlanta Hawks were just as impressive earlier this month.
If the Grizzlies have Mike Conley back in the line-up, Portland will really be behind the eight-ball. They can still win but it will be tough considering their struggles the last two games. Portland’s starters, even Matthews and Lillard, have struggled from the outside the last few games and they could be due for a regression back to the mean.
However, should Conley return and we get a close game tonight, it will set up two of the league’s best clutch players going head to head. We know about Lillard time but Mike Conley has put up more impressive numbers in clutch situations although he lacks the posterizing dunks.
Conley has scored 88 points in 23 games that the Grizzlies have been ahead or behind by five points or less in the final five minutes according to NBA.com. He’s shooting 48 percent from the field and 50 percent from the line. The Grizzlies are 16-7 in those situations.
As for Lillard, he has scored 59 points in 18 games where the Blazers are 12-6. He’s shooting 42 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3 with nine assists but remarkably only one turnover in those 16 games. For a point guard that’s almost impossible.
This should be fun.