|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|October 31st, 2008|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Mike Conley|
|Mickael Pietrus||SG||O.J. Mayo|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Rudy Gay|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Darrell Arthur|
|Dwight Howard||C||Marc Gasol|
- The Grizzlies have inserted Darrell Arthur into their starting lineup, replacing Darko Milicic.
- 3 Shades of Blue has its preview up. Chip gives the Magic the edge in at point guard, shooting guard, power forward, and center, and his hometown Grizzlies the edge at small forward and on the bench.
- Speaking of benches, Brian Schmitz reports that Stan Van Gundy will not change his eight-man rotation for tonight's game despite its lackluster play against Atlanta. Thus, Tony Battie, Anthony Johnson, and J.J. Redick will once again be the first three men off the pine.
- Don't forget to read our commentary piece about Trevor Ariza, which has been bumped down the front page to make room for the gamethread.
Both the Orlando Magic and the Memphis Grizzlies dropped their season-openers on Wednesday night. The Magic were out-hustled by the Hawks, while the Grizzlies lost to the Rockets by 11 despite shooting a higher percentage from the field; of course, it's hard for a team to win when it clanks all its three-point attempts, which is exactly what the Grizzlies did.
That said, this team could give the Magic trouble. Rookie two-guard O.J. Mayo had an awful professional debut, missing 15 of his 20 shots and scoring only 10 points, but in theory he's quick enough to get to the rim against any of Orlando's defenders. Fellow rookie Darrell Arthur played much better against Houston, with 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds off the bench, and could come up with the sort of hustle plays the Hawks did to beat Orlando on Wednesday. And Rudy Gay is, well, he's a damn good player with a bright future stuck on an awful team.
All that said, the Magic will give the Grizzlies trouble, too. Darko Milicic can't guard Rashard Lewis; Gay can, but that leaves Milicic to check Hedo Turkoglu and, by extension, leaves the Grizzlies up a creek. Dwight Howard has averaged 25.5 points and 16 rebounds on 79% shooting against the Grizzlies over the past two seasons. And, for what it's worth, J.J. Redick popped-off for 15 points off the bench when these two teams met in the exhibition-season finale a little over a week ago. So there's that, too.
More thoughts on the game, including musings about Marcin Gortat and Darko Milicic, after the jump.
And maybe I'm just a total basketball nerd, but I really want to see Magic reserve center Marcin Gortat match-up against Milicic, the former Magic forward, if only for a few minutes. The Phoenix Suns made Gortat the 57th selection in the 2005 NBA Draft before trading his rights to Orlando; meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons infamously made Milicic the 2nd selection in the 2003 NBA Draft, behind LeBron James and ahead of superstars Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. So far, Gortat appears to be the more productive player, with the big, honkin' caveat that he's played a grand total of 47 minutes to Milicic's 4773.
Magic fans will keep an eye on how Milicic does, tonight and throughout his career, especially given the less-than-acrimonious way in which he and the Magic parted ways. But I imagine some Magic fans will be on the lookout for Javaris Crittenton, long the subject of trade rumors. They may not get a good look at him though, as he did not play in the opener and thus appears to be out of the rotation. Obviously, they'll also watch the players on the team for which they root. My guess is Jameer Nelson, who played dreadfully against Atlanta: 8 points on 4-of-12 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 turnovers in 32 minutes. If he can't acquit himself against Mike Conley, um, then something must be wrong with him. Last year, the Grizzlies gave up 116.7 points per 100 possessions to their opponents when Conley was on the floor, compared to 108.17 when he was off it for an efficiency differential of 8.54. By that metric, Conley had the worst single impact on the Grizzlies' defense among players who were part of the regular rotation.
For the best Memphis Grizzlies coverage, I recommend the excelled independent blog 3 Shades of Blue, which recently moved to the new Bloguin platform. The gents at 3SoB do a simply marvelous job of covering their team. If you prefer mainstream media, you're in luck, as the Memphis Commercial Appeal provides fantastic Grizz content.
Tip's at 8. Go Magic.