Opponent Scouting: Memphis Grizzlies. (18-18)
Back from my break. How’d things go while I was gone?
Tonight at 8:00pm the Pistons will be on the road to play the Memphis Grizzlies at 8:00pm EST. The Pistons are on the second night of a back to back after losing to the Bucks last night and the Grizzlies are on one day of rest after losing to Houston.
The Grizzlies are pretty much the same as they have been for years. (when they are healthy at least) They come into the game with the 5th best defense in the NBA by allowing 105.3 points per 100 possessions, and the 26th best offense by scoring 105.2 points per 100 possessions. That combines for the 19th net rating.
The Grizzlies are still led by the unkillable Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Gasol is getting old, but his sweet shooting, brilliant passing, and heady defense are the backbone of the team. Mike Conley is as good as ever, scoring 20.5 points and dishing 6.5 assists per game with high-level defense. The pair will go down as one of the best and most beloved pairings of players over such a long stretch ever.
Garrett Temple is a high-quality 3 and D wing who has a great motor. Kyle Anderson is slow, a good passer, and clever scorer even if he can’t really shoot 3s. The young Jaren Jackson Jr has started alongside Gasol, and while he has all of the young big issues you’d expect, but he is learning and is capable.
JaMychal Green is a fun forward who does a bit of everything. Omri Caspi is here although he hasn’t done a ton. Dylon Brooks may or may not actually be good. Shelvin Mack is a competent point guard. Joakim Noah is working on his comeback and has mostly looked competent in limited minutes.
This team defends, struggles to score, but knows what they are and what they are doing. Conley and Gasol are great.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. The black pit of negative expectations: Season on the edge of spiraling totally out of control. Please win a game.
Drummond vs. Gasol: Clash of styles for a couple of excellent players. Gasol’s high-skilled game vs Drummond’s ferocious brand of athleticism. Drummond containing Gasol’s shooting while him (and also his teammates) don’t totally surrender the paint will be very important.
Blake Griffin vs. JJJ: A rookie guarding Blake Griffin should, in theory, go well for Blake Griffin. In theory.
Pistons vs. General Defense: I didn’t watch all of the games during my break but I saw a decent amount. The Pistons need to get that figured out cause it has often been very very bad.
Bruce Brown vs. Being a bad offensive player: This is a positive. Brown going from “Totally terrible on offense” to “Just normal bad” is a very good thing. And make no mistake, he’s still a bad offensive player, no amount of cutting will make up for no one even pretending to guard him off the ball and the occasional flash of nice playmaking isn’t fixing it either. That said, reaching normal levels of bad instead of “give hard hats to courtside viewers” is really good.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Blake Griffin is slaughtering JJJ immediately.
The Pistons draw the proverbial line in the sand that this is the game to dig deep and it shows.
Marc Gasol is not infested with the spirit of Steph Curry.
Run for the hills if:
“how many open layups have the Grizzlies had?”
“I forgot Bruce Brown was even on the court.”
“I wonder if Reggie Jackson realizes he’s supposed to try and stay in front of Mike Conley.”
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
If the Pistons keep losing I’ll look stupid all right.