The Orlando Magic can pick up their first victory in FedExForum in three years tonight when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies, who've won 7 of their last 10 games to boost their record on the season to .500, just 1.5 games back of the Portland Trail Blazers for the Western Conference's final playoff spot. Zach Randolph, who earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors earlier this afternoon, is a huge reason for Memphis' reversal of fortune, putting up 22.3 points and 15 rebounds during the 7-3 stretch.
In Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies have one of the league's finest front lines. The trio combines for 52 points and 26.4 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, they get very little from their backcourt. Point guard Michael Conley hasn't done much to demonstrate he's worthy of the contract extension he signed before the season, O.J. Mayo's regressed in a reserve role, and free-agent signee Tony Allen can only contribute on the defensive end. Sam Young has averaged 6.5 points and 1.8 rebounds, in nearly 24 minutes per game, since moving into the starting lineup. No one's really doing anything outside of the Grizzlies' big three.
With that said, if Gay, in the midst of his best professional season, gets his offense going against a hobbled Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando will be in for a long night. I'm reasonably confident Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson, and Dwight Howard can keep a lid on Gasol and Randolph, but keeping Gay out of the paint and contesting his jumpers is Turkoglu's responsibility. Gay's shooting 47.1 percent from the floor this year, and he's primarily a jump-shooter. He's not too different from Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, who torched Turkoglu for 26 points last Thursday, if we're honest.
Orlando should be able to outgun the Grizzlies from beyond the arc; Memphis allows its opponents to shoot 37 percent on three-pointers, in almost 20 attempts per game. If Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson keep the ball moving and find the Magic's open shooters, this one might get boring in a hurry, but in a good way for the visitors.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|31-17 (13-11 road) |
|24-24 (14-7 home) |
|January 31st, 2011|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Michael Conley|
|Jason Richardson||SG||Sam Young|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Rudy Gay|
|Brandon Bass||PF||Zach Randolph|
|Dwight Howard||C||Marc Gasol|
|November 15th: Magic 89, Grizzlies 72|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|92.1 (16th)||Pace||92.4 (15th)|
|108.4 (10th)||ORtg||106.2 (17th)|
|102.2 (4th)||DRtg||105.1 (T-10th)|