The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the league’s best defenses. The Charlotte Bobcats are one of the league’s worst offenses, as well one of the worst defenses. Tuesday, the Bobcats will roll into Memphis looking to pull off an upset victory over a Grizzlies squad that is 19-7 since the all-star break.
The Grizzlies are have been gelling since the all-star break and the trade of their former leading scorer Rudy Gay. The Grizzlies defense is first in opponents points per game at 89.7 and second in defensive rating. With a record of 52-25, the Grizzlies are the fifth seed in a stacked Western Conference. The Grizzlies record would be good enough for the second seed in the less-competitive Eastern Conference. The Grizzlies play smash-mouth basketball on defense. They’re anchored by the play of their all-star caliber big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and the point guard play of Mike Conley.
The Bobcats were defeated by the Grizzlies earlier in the season 94-87. Conley led all scorers with 20 points and Randolph had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Gasol stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. The Grizzlies held the Bobcats to 37.6% shooting and scored 25 points off the Bobcats turnovers. After seeing how the Bobcats crumbled against Miami’s defense Friday, we could see a similar story Tuesday night. The Bobcats already struggle getting consistent looks, and the Grizzlies won’t make things any better for them.
Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker will again be relied on to carry the bulk of the Bobcats offense. Walker struggled last week with facilitating and shooting. He shot only 14% from three. While Walker’s three-point shooting has come and gone alot this season at a 31.8% clip, he’s a lot better than that percentage. Walker will have an interesting matchup with Conley, who statistically is also having a career year.
Henderson played well last week, and continued his post all-star surge. Individually Henderson hasn’t seen too many defenders like what he will tomorrow night in Tony Allen. Allen is a strong, athletic and physical guard who frustrates defenders with his throwback defensive ability. Allen isn’t a great scorer, but he embodies everything the Grizzlies are about. This will be the matchup to watch for tomorrow’s game.
Memphis will have a big advantage inside with Randolph and Gasol taking on the likes of Josh McRoberts, Bismack Biyombo and company. The Grizzlies bigs aren’t afraid to bang, rebound the ball well, and are a handful to deal with inside. If the Bobcats are going to have any chance to win the game, they’re going to have to match the level of the Grizzlies big men. McRoberts has done a great job of bringing some consistency in rebounding and activity to the Bobcats bigs, but it would be nice to see that spread to the rest of the frontcourt Tuesday night.