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Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies: 1/4/08 - Game Preview

On January 5, 2007 the Boston Celtics took their 11-20 record into Memphis and won a shootout (128-119). Strangely the win improved their road record to 8-9. At that time only the Pistons, Jazz, Rockets, Spurs, Mavericks and Suns had more road wins. How crazy was that? Little did we know that the Celtics would go 12-38 from that point forward. Meanwhile the Grizzlies were a bit of a wreck at the time as well. Tony Barone was finishing his first week as interim coach in Memphis, which prompted me to write the following,

"There have to be guys all over the league who want to be in Mike Miller's situation right now. New coach Tony Barone didn't give him the green light to shoot. He took down the traffic signal altogether."

That's one of my all time favorite lines. More importantly Tony Allen did the following that night against Memphis:

Couple of points about that dunk:
  1. It was instrumental in a theory that floated around for a while that claimed TA blacked out for a brief period of time while dunking.
  2. Look how he lands. You mean to tell me he suffered a catastrophic knee injury on a dunk attempt 5 days later?
  3. Hopefully you are lost in thought about Tony Allen right now and have completely forgotten that I just quoted myself and then proceeded to pat myself on the back about it. Who the hell says traffic signal?
Let's Get to Know the Grizzlies

Andre Brown - He's in his second year out of DePaul and only played 1 minute in the Grizzlies last game. Should I pretend to know who he is?

Brian Cardinal - I know he has only played in 7 games all season, including a whopping 2 minutes in the month of December. But I'm begging for the Celtics to open a huge lead and put in Brian Scalabrine. If the last five minutes of this game are not a Scalabrine/Cardinal one-on-one extravaganza - with the TD Banknorth Garden screaming SCAL-A-BRINE in unison - well I will be incredibly disappointed. In fact an epic Scalabrine/Cardinal encounter deserves its own post. And for once I'm going to deliver. I'm that excited.

Mike Conley Jr. - The crazy thing is that he has played in as many games as Cardinal this season. And that includes 20 minutes of action in Conley's one December appearance. That seems wrong. Turns out he missed some time due to a shoulder injury, recently (2 days ago) earned his first start and responded with 7 points and 8 assists in 35 minutes. I'm a huge fan of his game. And check out the lineup from his old AAU team. Whoa now. That link deserves its own post. And you know what? I'm actually going to write one later today. This is crazy.

Pau Gasol - After a solid round of "The Memphis fans are booing Gasol because he is underachieving, which means he is now perfect for the Bulls" jokes I was a bit surprised to see that he is averaging 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. For a guy that is averaging 18.8 points and 8.6 rebounds a game in his career what is there to expect? I guess Grizzlies fans are slowly accepting that Gasol is in his 7th season, doesn't play a lot of defense, is passive at times, can't get his team out of the first round of the playoffs when they make it, will make between $13 and $17 million over the course of this season and the next three and may have peaked as a player two seasons ago. Other than that things are going well for Gasol in Memphis.

Rudy Gay - Rudy Gay's ascension from questionable effort guy to rising star, albeit on a losing team, which always brings a guy's actual value into question, is one of the biggest bright spots on the season for Memphis. The guy hit a game winning three in Tim Duncan's mug I seen it!. Of course that's nothing compared to what he did to Luis Scola:

I'm not sure if that's even legal in Argentina. Yeah that's the best I got. Next!

Casey Jacobsen - When I saw his name on the roster I was shocked by the fact that he has only 3 years of NBA service. It could have sworn he was at Stanford at least 7 or 8 years ago. Turns out he played in Europe the last few years. I still got it. Furthermore, Jacobsen does have the distinction of being traded for Jimmy Jackson. Did you know that Jackson was at one point in his career traded for Shawn Bradley, Ed O'Bannon, Robert Pack, Khalid Reeves, Michael Cage, Don MacLean, Lucious Harris, Keith Van Horn, Clarence Weatherspoon, Steve Smith, Brevin Knight, David Wesley, Maciej Lampe, the aforementioned Jacobsen and Jackson Vroman? And that final deal only happened because Jackson refused to report to the second to last team that dealt for him - the New Orleans Hornets. Keep in mind the fact that a lot of players went with Jackson in those deals. How else can a guy expect to play for the Mavericks, Nets, 76ers, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Hawks, Cavaliers, Heat, Kings, Rockets, Suns and Lakers?

Kyle Lowry - People who follow the NBA intently, love the league and watch all sorts of games obsess about Lowry. He's a high energy guy who plays at a frantic, reckless pace. He's one of the Grizzlies I'm most excited to see play.

Darko - He played a stretch of 5 games where he finished with 2 points each time. How is that even possible? On the bright side I don't feel the need to use his last name, although that's due in part to the fact that I always spell it wrong. Regardless he is an icon of sorts. And his picture is downright goofy. Shades of Private Pyle, no?

Mike Miller - In my mind he started the current Florida Gators to the pros trend back in 2000. You could make a case for Jason Williams back in '98 but I'm ignoring him because of the way his college career ended. Meanwhile, Andrew DeClercq fans are furious. Can you believe that I had nothing else to type about Miller other than the fact that I love his jump shot?

Juan Carlos Navarro - His game log for the season is downright erratic. That's actually a trend for the Grizzlies, which is never a good sign. From what I've heard he never met a shot he didn't like. Think Eddie House. But to his credit Navarro did hit 8 three pointers in a game this year and has connected from long range for three or more in nine contests. That's impressive.

Jeremy Richardson - Initially I saw his name listed as "J. Richardson" and I thought, "Isn't he on the Bobcats?" Then I learned it was Jeremy and not Jason, which made sense but left me with very little to say. Thankfully I don't have to be too knowledgeable about guy who came out of Delta State and does not have a picture on his page.

Damon Stoudamire - He is always better and simultaneously not as good as I remember him being. Figure that out. More importantly his December stats were unimpressive at best and he started 2008 with a DNP. At some point the Grizzlies will have to go with Conley and Lowry. And that point might be now. Do your realize this is his 13th season in the NBA?

Stromile Swift - Let the record show that I won my only fantasy basketball championship with him at one of the center spots. I also did not manually draft that team, did not change my lineup all season and did not even add or drop a player. Since then I've spent countless hours steering teams to finishes between 2nd and 5th. Also he might be the greatest example of an athlete that hung around in the NBA solely because of his athleticism. And yet at some point everyone realized that he was not going to reach the heights as a player that many predicted. Whatever happens with him, the Swift/Lorenzo Wright will go down as my favorite bad mediocre center combination of all time.

Hakim Warrick - Hands down one of my favorite college players ever. Do you think he looks at Rudy Gay every now and then and thinks, "That's supposed to be me!"?


So it turns out the Grizzlies are awful. No really, they've only won 9 games all season. I have not been following Memphis all that closely but this caught me completely off guard. I remember the Grizzlies giving the Spurs all they could handle in a early season loss and then later beating San Antonio. And I like Conley, Miller, Gasol, Gay, Lowry, Navarro and Warrick. That's half their team! Throw in my respect for head coach Mark Iavaroni and I wonder what the hell is going on down there. Maybe tonight will give us some insight. In fact here's a better idea. Go take a look at 3 Shades of Blue where they actually like the Grizzlies and follow them on a day-to-day basis.

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