The Orlando Magic host the Memphis Grizzlies today with the aim of becoming the first team since the 2007/08 Boston Celtics to defeat every other team at least once. Memphis handed Orlando a 99-95 loss in January as all 5 of its starters scored in double-figures, and Orlando turned the ball over 19 times. The biggest diffrence between then and now is that Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who's averaged 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 63.6% field-goal shooting against Orlando in his career, won't be available until next season due to a sore neck muscle. Thus, the Grizzlies will have to rely on the rookie Hasheem Thabeet, the sophomore Hamed Haddadi, and the immobile Zach Randolph to man the pivot against Orlando's Dwight Howard, who should romp today. And if Randolph, a deserving All-Star this year, gets worked on D, his offense could suffer. Maybe.
|2009/2010 NBA Season|
|39-36 (16-20 road)
|53-23 (30-7 home)
|April 4th, 2010|
|Michael Conley||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|O.J. Mayo||SG||Vince Carter|
|Rudy Gay||SF||Matt Barnes|
|Zach Randolph||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Hasheem Thabeet||C||Dwight Howard|
|January 25th: Grizzlies 99, Magic 95|
|93.5 (10th)||Pace||92.0 (18th)|
|108.7 (12th)||ORtg||110.3 (8th)|
|109.1 (19th)||DRtg||103.0 (4th)|
What makes Memphis dangerous from the Magic's perspective, in addition to Randolph's low-post scoring, is its backcourt of O.J. Mayo and Michael Conley. They're shooting 38.9% and 40.2% from three-point distance, respectively, and Orlando has struggled to contest three-pointers at times this season. Additionally, starting point guards have shot 43.0% on three-pointers against Orlando this season. Memphis takes fewer three-pointers than any other team in the league, but can still be dangerous from out there.
Orlando needs to counter by force-feeding Howard in the low post on every possession. Thabeet may block his shot every now and again--he has 77 blocks in 735 minutes--but the positives outweigh the negatives here. Howard's too quick and too athletic for Thabeet to swat every time, and Thabeet is foul-prone to boot, averaging a personal for each 5:20 he plays. Wear down that understaffed front line, get in the bonus, take over the game.