Coming off the heels of Monday night's loss to the Chicago Bulls in St. Louis, I'm not sure what to expect tonight other than more of the same: new Grizzlies players—and/or new NBA players—feeling their way through the breaks of the game, trying to find a comfort level with the league and with the Grizzlies' new, more uptempo offense.
The Mavericks are in a weird place this year, having lost out on the Dwight Howard sweepstakes and the Deron Williams sweepstakes and the Everyone Else sweepstakes and ended up with Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis (who, of course, Have It All) but not committed to wholesale tanking in an effort to land one of the coveted 2014 lottery picks. Presumably they're going to keep trying to contend as long as Dirk Nowitzki is on the roster, but what that looks like in practice, this season, is a Mavericks team that's hard to gauge.
As CBS Sports' Matt Moore said in his first NBA Power Rankings column of the season:
The Mavericks have become my Mendoza line for Power Rankings. If you are above them, you are a good team, if you are below them, a bad one.
The key question with the Mavs is this: can you replace Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, and Chris Kaman with Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, and Samuel Dalembert and become a much better team in the process?
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will still be in the feeling-out process that we saw them in on Monday night. Without Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince, and Quincy Pondexter—three of them presumably starters on opening night—it wasn't going to be much of a fair fight, especially with Derrick Rose on a mission to prove he's back. Not sure if any or all of them will be out again tonight, but if they are, it'll definitely be a chance for the bench players to step up again and see what they're made of.
I'll be paying close attention to the offense tonight, and how well some of the bench units play together. Those are the kinds of things preseason games are for. Getting too wrapped up in the W's and L's is a good way to miss the ways the team has changed (for better or for worse) over the offseason.
At any rate, I'm just excited to get a chance to be back in the Grindhouse. Robert Pera said at Media Day that he hopes to have the Wi-Fi working by the first regular season game. Between that, the in-game music (especially that one Clippers game at the end of last year where we got to hear "Supernaut" and Motörhead), the BBQ, and the Memphis-Wrestling-on-Channel-5 feel we've all come to love, it's been too long away.