Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Game 9 Preview: Grizzlies-Mavericks

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 10:59 AM

The Grizzlies host Southwest Division rival the Dallas Mavericks tonight at FedExForum. Barring an unforeseen babysitter mishap, I'll be courtside and tweeting live from Beyond the Arc's new Twitter feed — @FlyerGrizBlog. Until then, three things I'm thinking about in advance of tonight's game:

Dirk Nowitzki vs. Zach Randolph will be the feature attraction at FedExForum tonight.
  • Dirk Nowitzki vs. Zach Randolph will be the feature attraction at FedExForum tonight.
1. Dirk vs. Z-Bo:Tonight's game will feature a battle between two of the NBA's best and most sui generis power forwards. Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki is perhaps the sweetest-shooting seven-footer the world has ever known, and feasts on mid-range jumpers. The Grizzlies' Zach Randolph is a floor-bound 6'8" beast that does his damage on the inside with relentless second-effort rebounding. Regardless of the game outcome, basketball fans should enjoy watching these two go at each other.

The Grizzlies didn't have Randolph when they won 91-90 at Dallas on October 29th, but Randolph has quickly gotten into a groove in his three games back, exploding for a 23-20 night against Phoenix on Monday. And Randolph was above his season averages in four games versus Dirk and Dallas last season: 23-14-3 on 50% shooting. He should be effective tonight will be helped somewhat by Nowitzki's increasingly removal of three-point shooting from his repertoire (Dirk's attempted only four three-pointers in six games.) Z-Bo doesn't like to guard out to the three-point line.

As for Nowitzki, he's on his way to yet another MVP-worthy season, currently fifth in the league in scoring at 25.7 points per game and shooting 58% from the floor. He will have little problem shooting right over the smaller Randolph. Could be quite a battle.

2. Containing Jason Terry: With second-year blur Roddy Beaubois unavailable, the Mavericks lack explosive scorers beyond Nowitzki. Jason Terry is the team's second options and the Grizzlies did a great job keeping him in check in the first meeting, holding him to only 13 points. Perhaps not coincidentally, that was probably Tony Allen's best game for the Grizzlies. With Allen seemingly rooted to the bench for the moment, can the Grizzlies contain Terry again?

3. Will the Center Hold?: The key to the Grizzlies win in Dallas was the return of Marc Gasol, who was a last-minute addition to the lineup coming off his pre-season ankle injury and secured 15 rebounds, including a crucial six on the offensive glass. The Mavericks have not been getting particularly good play in the middle so far this season, but do boast two legit seven-foot paint presences in Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood. With Gasol looking limited in the couple of games since tweaking the ankle last week in Phoenix, you have to wonder if he can be effective again. Which means that this would be a good game for Hasheem Thabeet to start re-establishing himself. Thabeet was a DNP in the Grizzlies last game, but coach Lionel Hollins chalked that up to the small-ball lineups of the Suns and suggested Thabeet would be back in the rotation. Thabeet looked a little more alive in his last appearance at Sacramento. He should get a chance to build on that tonight.

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