Actually the real Spanish Night is March 22nd against Sacramento but this game makes more sense. With Garbajosa, Calderon, Navarro and Gasol you won't find a more Spanish flavor at any NBA game this season.
Just like for every game, ChipC3 and Zack bring you pregame commentary for the 11.21.07 Memphis vs Toronto game. Leave your predictions for the final score in the comments.
Memphis has finally come home for a few games around Thanksgiving with only San Antonio on Friday night being the only road game this week. Injuries forced the first change in the starting lineup for the Grizzlies in Dallas as Juan Carlos Navarro entered the lineup for Darko Milicic (sprained thumb). Michael Conley hurt his shoulder in the Dallas game and is out after having surgery to repair a posterior labral tear. For those history buffs, Toronto was the first team Memphis played under the Tony Barone experiment.
Toronto is 5-3 to start the season heading into Dallas but this road trip is not the type you want to have heading into the holiday. Combine that with the meltdown against Golden St on Sunday when the Raptors went ice cold in the 4th quarter (4-22 from the field) to blow a big lead and lose at home. Back to back road games against two more high scoring teams can't make the Raptors feel thankful to the NBA. Toronto has been experimenting with lineups as only three players have started all nine games (Ford, Parker and Bosh) with no other player starting more than 6 games.
--Won 1 in a row (looking for first winning streak of the season)
--2nd game of 2 game home stand
--0-2 vs Eastern Conference
--Lost 2 in a row
--2nd game of 3 game road trip
--0-2 vs Western Conference
Noteworthy Statistic: 3-Point Percentage
Memphis....41% (3rd in NBA)
Toronto.......43% (2nd in NBA)
-- Ole! Garbajosa, Calderon, Navarro and Gasol reunite for what might be the most watched internet broadband stream in Spanish history.
-- Point Guard curse strikes again. Conley will be out at least 2 to 3 weeks with a torn posterior labral in his right shoulder. This is the third year in a row the Grizzlies newest PG acquisition has gotten hurt. (Bonus storyline...will Darko play? As of right now I don't know)
-- Attendance, the story that won't go away. With a dismal crowd for the Sonics game, attendance problem is once again a topic of discussion. Will the Forum be fuller for the Raptors game? I doubt it.
-- Effective interior passing. Against the hapless Sonics, the Griz (particularly Pau) showed great interior passing, which resulted in a huge night for Stro and fewer turnovers than normal. This offense seems as if it will be it's most effective, when the interior passing is more effective.
-- Rudy and Kyle staying on the court. The Grizzlies can't afford either of Rudy or Kyle to get stuck on the bench for long stretches of this game. Foul trouble will be the primary reason why either won't play their normal minutes, but Kyle particularly needs to stay in control and limit the turnovers in the 1st half to gain Iavaroni's confidence to play him more than Damon.
-- No more injuries. Until we get Darko back, the Griz can't afford any more injuries.
Point Guard: Damon Stoudamire vs T J Ford
T J Ford has been a consistent player for the Raptors this season hitting 48.8% of his FG attempts and dishing out 8.1 assists as well in only 28 mpg. 28.8 mpg is a dream for Damon right now even with Conley's injury. Damon is under the gun right now as Iavaroni said he is tired of having to come from behind every night. That is a slap at Damon who basically only plays at the opening of the halves anyway. With Kyle Lowry's development it looks like Damon won't be starting for long.
Shooting Guard: Mike Miller vs Anthony Parker
Mike Miller is starting to get back into his aggressive role with the Grizzlies and out of the passive role that we saw emerge on the USA team. It's about time to say the least. Mike's aggressive play is needed for the Grizzlies as is his long range shooting. Anthony Parker isn't Spanish but he did play at Macabib Tel Aviv for two years and Virtus Roma for one so he was in the neighborhood so to speak. Parker is a solid player who has deadly range (56.7% from the arc) and is not going to be over run by any SG in the league. After a quiet start to the season Parker too is starting to warm up as well.
Small Forward: Rudy Gay vs Jamario Moon
Who is Jamario Moon? The Mississippi Community College player has come out of nowhere to earn a starting role over high priced free agent signee Jason Kapono and Jorge Carbajosa, who is not playing due to the injury risk with his ankle despite his insisting that he is healthy. Either way, Moon is starting and playing major minutes. Rudy Gay would be playing major minutes if he could stay out of foul trouble. The team leader in training still seems a bit immature to take the reigns but the talent is unquestionable. Rudy has shown consistent NBA 3 pt range, power inside and improving defense but he has to avoid the silly early fouls to really make a statement. Being matched up against a less respected player should aid in that process.
Power Forwards: Pau Gasol vs Chris Bosh
The battle of two team leaders who have struggled to start the season. Gasol has struggled to overcome injuries to his ankle, back and finger while Bosh has struggled being the focus without any interior support. That only got worse this week with the news that Rasho Nesterovich is injured and out for a while. Gasol seems to be out of shape but the combination of injuries has that effect. He seemed to be getting back into shape despite a poor shooting night in Dallas. Bosh has to raise his shooting from 40% to start being the superstar expected of him.
Centers: Darko Milicic vs Maceo Baston
Call me crazy but I expect Darko back for this game to give him some court time before the Spurs game Friday. Not a lot of minutes but some just to get his juices flowing. Memphis with Darko and Gasol would really pressure the small Raptors lineup as well. Former Wolverine Maceo Baston is playing out of position at Center as well as in the starting lineup. The problem is for Toronto is that they really don't have an alternative with the bench having Andrea Bargnani as the only other big man available. Of course that brings back up Garbajosa who is such a tough player that he could play some center if Toronto would let him play.
Benches: Former #1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani leads a bench that is strong and capable. Jose Calderon, another Spaniard, has earned minutes despite T J Ford's strong play. The problem for Toronto right now is the lack of quality power players off the bench. Bargnani prefers the three point line to the paint. Carlos Delfino is more comfortable on the wing as well. Jason Kapono is paid to hit three pt shots and not much else. About the only player willing to mix it up underneath is Kris Humphries who is an undersized PF. Memphis' bench has come to life in the last few games with Kyle Lowry getting plenty of support from Juan Carlos Navarro, Stromile Swift and Hakim Warrick. Tarence Kinsey is also taking minutes in the rotation. Iavaroni keeps insisting he only wants an 8 man rotation but the way these players are performing that is hard to believe without a trade. That doesn't mean the Grizzlies will make any moves right away but the future has to include a deal involving Damon Stoudamire and someone else for future picks or a lock down wing defender. That is the only weakness the Grizz seem to have right now.
Coaches: Marc Iavaroni vs Sam Mitchell
Sam Mitchell was on the hot seat to begin last season but a shocking in season turnaround and an Atlantic Division title put those rumors to rest and earned Mitchell a brand new contract instead of a pink slip. His team started the season strong but lately has been slipping and the lack of interior strength combined with Bosh's poor shooting puts more pressure on Mitchell. Iavaroni is still in the honeymoon phase of his coaching career and people are starting to see that he is providing great entertainment at the Grizzlies games. What he hasn't done is find an answer for the end of game troubles that have plagued past teams. Hopefully he will find out who is comfortable taking those important big shots at the end of games.
Other Game Previews
Beyond the Arc
The Sports Network
Late News: Toronto could be without second-leading scorer T.J. Ford on Wednesday after sitting out the final quarter of Tuesday's game against Dallas. He was apparently injured after taking a knee to the chest while trying to draw a charge.
More Latest News: Garbajosa on inactive list according to ESPN after seeing something on an MRI of the leg he injured last season. More in the continuing drama building in Toronto that has gotten so weird that Pau Gasol actually spoke out on behalf of his friend.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007