This little project got sidetracked by other work, but I will finish, although the last batch might not come until after the season tips.
1. Orlando Magic
Conference Rank: 1
Forum Date: Monday, January 25th
I did a phone interview this morning as part of a preview series for FoxSports.com. I answered three questions about the team. You can listen/watch here.
As I get ready for my own Griz preview stuff over the next couple of weeks, let's start with a survey of other Griz previews around the web:
Hollinger's team preview is on ESPN Insider, so you won't be able to read it without those privileges. But he projects the Grizzlies to go 27-55, deriding both the team's offseason moves and the decision-making process that went into them. Hollinger wonders how the addition of shot-happy scorers Allen Iverson and Zach Randolph will really help an offense that was 28th overall last season and a distant last in percentage of assisted baskets.
Hollinger also makes a point that I made in my Lindy's preview and will make again in my upcoming Flyer preview: That even in winning a mere 24 games last season, the Grizzlies were unusually fortunate in the health department, the top five players on the roster missing a total of 3 games. That was unlikely to repeat itself this season even before the Grizzlies added an aging (and already injured) Iverson and a relatively injury prone Randolph.
I think Hollinger makes a good point about the depth and diversity of the team's frontcourt rotation and how it could potentially be used against different kinds of match-ups, though he points out that the slowness of a likely Randolph/Gasol starting pairing could cause problems defensively. This is something that was on display last night against the Hawks.
Though I'm not ready to make my own prediction on the Grizzlies' record this season, I think Hollinger's rationale is sound, especially as regards to the Iverson and Randolph signings and the decision to let Hakim Warrick walk
There are a couple of details in Hollinger's preview I take issue with:
This was a pretty blah game and I have a cold, so I'm going to make this one reasonably brief:
1. Turnovers Bite Again: Turnovers have been a big story throughout preseason and turnover differential was a key to tonight's last, as the Grizzlies turned the ball over 22 times to the Hawks' 14. I haven't gone back over the play chart, but my memory and game notes suggest two types of turnovers were most frequent tonight. There were a lot of lost-ball turnovers from dribbling in traffic. This problem will hopefully be alleviated in the regular season by certain players getting fewer minutes (I'm looking at you Mike Taylor) and others getting sharper (ditto O.J. Mayo). The other were bad pass turnovers, particularly in the halfcourt, particularly on forced entry feeds. The Grizzlies were the worst assist team in the league, by far, last season. They are trying to correct that, at least in spots, this preseason, but just aren't very good at passing the ball right now.
Alright, I'm live courtside at FedExForum for some preseason action after skipping Monday night's game for the Indie Memphis Film Festival.
News for now is that it appears that the Grizzlies will be playing with a full complement of players, minus Allen Iverson.
The league also announced today that Lionel Hollins was fined $25,000 for publicly criticizing game officials following Monday's loss to the Magic.
Once again, I will not be live-blogging this but will have a post-game report up later tonight.
I may chime in here if it seems warranted.
Let's do this.
The Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder before a small but spirited crowd tonight to win their home preseason opener. I didn't intend to write this much about a preseason game. Really I didn't …
This development taps into my own mixed feelings about the whole Iverson experiment: Here we are at the first home game of the season and the on-court action is obscured by a (minor) controversy regarding Iverson. It should be noted, however, that Iverson was on the bench with the team the whole game and was very animated in encouraging teammates (and questioning calls).
The primary question Iverson's absence raises is how it will impact his role on the team as the regular season begins. Most people I talked to at the Forum tonight expected Iverson to start the season coming off the bench. We shall see.
I'm live courtside for the Grizzlies' first home preseason game. Allen Iverson and Darrell Arthur are not active tonight.
Not planning to live blog this, but may chime in if it seems warranted and will try to respond to questions in the comments section if anyone has any.
I will have a post-game report up later tonight.
The Grizzlies announced today that Allen Iverson will miss three weeks with a "partial tear" in his left hamstring. Iverson addressed the media and said that he hoped to be back in time for the last two preseason games.
More reaction to this after tonight's game.
Beyond the Arc is getting off to a slow start this season, what with training camp out of town and tons of activity on my other beats. But that will start to change with tomorrow's first home preseason game
A few observations:
Free-throw discrepancy: If this box score is to be believed, the starters (Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol) combined for 1 free-throw attempt in 109 minutes, while the bench combined for 23 free-throw attempts in 131 minutes. Not sure what to make of that, but it doesn't speak well for the starters' aggressiveness.
Mike Conley was efficient: 12 points (5-8 from the floor, 2-3 from three-point range) with 5 assists, a steal, and only one turnover in 21 minutes. Any sign of carryover from his strong spring is a positive.