Memphis Grizzlies (11-26)
Fedex Forum, Memphis, TN
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
8:00 PM EST
The Cavaliers are coming off the high of one of the most emotional wins this franchise has had in recent years. All season long this team has been trying to figure out how to keep both confidence and focus high on a consistent basis, all while learning how to be an elite NBA team. It’s been a fascinating process of maturation to watch. We thought Boston was going to be a major test, and they were, but now the Cavaliers face another new challenge for this season….an extended road trip. 6 of the Cavaliers’ next 7 games are on the road. 5 of those 6 games are against Western Conference opponents. The only home game in that stretch is against Western Conference power New Orleans. And to make things even better, Ben Wallace is battling a stomach flue and will be a game time decision this evening. Let the fun begin.
Projected Starting Lineups
-G Mo Williams (15.7 ppg, 4.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 16.24 PER)
-G Delonte West (12.1 ppg, 3.5 apg, .394 3P%, 15.10 PER)
-F LeBron James (27.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 6.6 apg, 32.53 PER)
-F Ben Wallace (3.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 13.51 PER)
-C Anderson Varejao (9.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 16.99 PER)
Key Reserves: Daniel Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, Sasha Pavlovic, JJ Hickson
Injuries: Ben Wallace (questionable), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (out), Eric Snow (out)
-G Kyle Lowry (7.6 ppg, 4.1 apg, 1.0 spg, 14.36 PER)
-G O.J. Mayo (19.7 ppg, 3.0 apg, .386 3P%, 16.03 PER)
-F Rudy Gay (19.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 15.96 PER)
-F Darrell Arthur (5.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 9.83 PER)
-C Marc Gasol (11.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 16.07 PER)
Key Reserves: Hakim Warrick, Mike Conley, Quinton Ross, Greg Buckner
Injuries: Darko Milicic (out), O.J. Mayo (day-to-day)
Team Efficiency Stats
-Off (101.4 ppg, 41.6 rpg, .480 FG%, .763 FT%, 20.5 apg, Eff-110.4, Rank-1)
-Def (89.0 ppg, 38.1 rpg, .420 FG%, Eff-96.1, Rank-1)
-Off (93.8 ppg, 38.2 rpg, .453 FG%, .755 FT%, 16.9 apg, Eff-100.6, Rank-25)
-Def (99.3 ppg, 40.2 rpg, .478 FG%, Eff-106.1, Rank-22)
This game is a tricky one to forecast. The Cavaliers will have a lot of questions. Will this be a let down game after Friday’s playoff-esque atmosphere in their battle with Boston? Will Ben Wallace be able to go? If not, who starts in his place? Lorenzen Wright? JJ Hickson? There just seems to be a lot going on right now with the Cavaliers, and it will be important for them to come out focused and surgical in their precision.
What do the Grizzlies really do better than the Cavaliers? That’s a tough question to answer. The Cavs score more, give up fewer points, shoot better from the field, the 3 point line, and the free throw line, and they defend the field and from the 3 point line better than the Grizzlies do. The Cavaliers rebound better, take care of the ball better, create more turnovers, and so on. This doesn’t seem like a great matchup for the Grizzlies. It has shown in recent years, as the Cavaliers are 7-1 against Memphis going back to the 2004-05 season. With the improved play this year of the Cavaliers, you’d hope to expect more of the same.
The Ben Wallace illness is the wild card, though. Without Wallace, the Cavaliers are going to have to play Wright and/or Hickson for more minutes than the team is comfortable with. Without Ilgauskas or Wallace, the Cavaliers lose two of their best offensive rebounders and two of the best at tipping in misses. This will create an opportunity for the Grizzlies to jump on a weakness and manufacture an advantage. It will require Marc Gasol to have a monster game, and for Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo to attack the basket and go right at 2 of the Cavaliers weaker interior defenders in Lorenzen Wright and JJ Hickson. If Wallace is out, that will absolutely be the battle to watch….can the Cavaliers still keep Memphis out of the paint and not let natural scorers like Gay and Mayo find space on the floor to get going?
From The Outside Looking In
Next Game For The Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls
Thursday, January 15, 2009
8:00 PM EST