Watch It! - Celtics at Grizzlies
Here are five things to watch out for during tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum.
A Challenging Back-to-Back
Tonight’s contest will be the second in as many nights for Boston, marking its first back-to-back of the regular season. The team played in two back-to-backs during the preseason but this one will be far different.
Brad Stevens is honing in on a rotation that didn’t exist during the preseason. As a result, this will be the first time many of his players log major minutes on consecutive nights. To make things worse, the C’s traveled from Detroit to Memphis overnight. Those two factors might catch up with Boston tonight in the fatigue department.
Several Fresh Bodies
While Boston will be playing on the tail end of a back-to-back, the team will still have a few fresh bodies for tonight’s game. And those bodies just so happen to be some legitimate players.
Jeff Green (20 minutes), Jared Sullinger (14 minutes), Vitor Faverani (19 minutes) and Kris Humphries (did not play) all saw limited or no action Sunday night in Detroit. This happened mostly because another group of Celtics keyed a fantastic comeback during the second half and Brad Stevens wanted to stick with what was working. That decision may have set Boston up for success tonight, as this group of four should bring a lot to the table.
Dealing with Size
The Memphis Grizzlies have become a contender over the past couple of seasons because of their dominant frontline. Not many teams can handle the combination of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
That duo averaged nearly 30.0 points per game and 19.0 rebounds per game last season. Through three games this season, they’re combining for 30.3 PPG and 17.6 RPG.
Boston struggled to deal with size up front just one night ago. Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond of the Pistons combined to rack up 45 points and 29 rebounds against the C’s. Detroit tallied 54 points in the paint overall. Boston will need to solve that issue tonight if it is going to jump into the win column.
Neither of these teams attempt many 3-pointers, and for good reason. Memphis ranks 18th in the league with a 3-point percentage of 34.7 percent. Boston ranks 29th in the league after hitting just 22.2 percent of its 3s.
This is going to be an important part of tonight’s game. These two teams match up pretty evenly shooting the 3. If one of them outperforms the other by a wide margin, that will almost certainly give that team the upper hand. Keep your eyes on Jerryd Bayless (37.5 percent) and Mike Miller (40.0 percent) for the Grizzlies, and Jeff Green (50.0 percent) and Jordan Crawford (40.0 percent) for the Celtics tonight.
Bradley’s D vs. Conley’s O
Everyone knows that Avery Bradley is one of the top on-ball defenders in the league. What’s a little less known is the fact that Mike Conley is becoming one of the more deadly offensive point guards in the NBA.
Conley leads the Grizzlies in scoring this season with an average of 20.0 PPG. He’s also dishing out 6.3 assists a night and reeling in 3.7 RPG. Memphis’ point guard has been electric inside the 3-point arc, where he has made 55.9 percent of his shots. Conley is shooting better than the league average in nearly every area inside the 3-point line where he has attempted a shot this season.
The Celtics will turn to their trusted defensive whiz, Bradley, to try to slow Conley down. Bradley’s defense tonight is all about keeping Conley out of the paint. Boston can’t afford to have Bradley gamble on steals. The C’s need him to stay between Conley and the basket and turn Conley into a perimeter player.