Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Game-time Chat: Lakers @ Grizzlies
good for 13th in the Western Conference. These are the same Grizzlies that made the Western Conference Finals last year, so to see them near the bottom of the Conference is definitely a surprise, even if it's mostly because of Marc Gasol's fairly serious injury. And, of course, Memphis would be the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference because the East is awful.
Memphis' underwhelming start does not mean they aren't dangerous; despite not having the reigning Defensive Player of the Year available, they seem to still be solid enough on defense to be ranked 7th in points allowed per game with 97.4 points per game. Their pace, however, is the lowest in the league at 89.8, which means the opposing team does not get as many possessions, helping them limit the amount of points they allow. Their defense, in reality, has been below average without Marc Gasol on the floor, as they are ranked 24th in Defensive Rating with an underwhelming 107.5.
Offensively, Zach Randolph has continued to bruise his way to the basket in the low-post, averaging 16 points per game, but his efficiency has taken a dip without Marc Gasol on the floor; he's shooting 46% and his PER is at 16.4, down from last season's 17.9. The Grizzlies are not a top perimeter team, shooting only 34% from beyond the arc, good for 20th in the NBA. Despite that, Tony Allen has looked good on offense this year, averaging 10 points on 52.5% shooting; good for an 18.1 PER, while still being one of the top perimeter defensive players in the league. And, of course, the Grizzlies have one of the top Point Guards in Mike Conley, who could miss tonight's contest. Conley is averaging 18.2 points and 6.3 assists, with a 21.5 PER, cementing him as one of the top Point Guards in the West.
The Lakers need to be prepared for a tough, grind-it-out game, as Memphis will look to slow down the pace and make the Lakers beat them in the half court set. Memphis does not turn the ball over very often, averaging only 13.9 giveaways per game, good for 4th best in the NBA. The Lakers will need to protect the ball, sink their open jumpers and move the ball around the court to have success on offense. Defensively, they need to lock down the paint and secure as many rebounds as possible. It's a tough match up for both teams, but without Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies may not have enough to beat L.A. this time around.