Game Night: Sixers @ Grizzlies
Wednesday, December 26, 8:00 PM (EST) at FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
13-15 (4th Atlantic, 9th East)
18-7 (2nd Southwest, 4th West)
TV: The Comcast Network Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM | Live Stats
MATCHUP TO WATCH
F Zach Randolph vs. F Thaddeus Young
In Zach Randolph's first two seasons in Memphis (2009-11), he averaged 20+ points and 10+ rebounds. In 2011-12, however, the 6-9 big man appeared in just 28 games – fewer than in any of his previous 10 seasons – because of a knee injury; he averaged just 11.6 points (46.3 FG%) and 8.0 rebounds in those games. Through 25 games this season, the 31-year-old has reasserted himself as one of the NBA's premier post players, averaging 16.8 points (49.7 FG%) and a career-high 12.8 boards per game. Perhaps most impressive, though, has been Randolph's play on the defensive end, where he is posting career-highs in defensive rating (98) and defensive win shares per 48 minutes (.092). He has scored in double figures in each of his last 10 games, posting eight double-doubles during that span. On December 4, he posted 38 points and 22 rebounds in a win over the Phoenix Suns. In four games against the Sixers since joining the Grizzlies, Randolph has averaged 20.8 points and 10.8 boards; he notched 21 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists in the teams' last meeting (a 102-91 Memphis win on February 15, 2011).
Sixer forward Thaddeus Young is playing the best basketball of his six-season NBA career. In the absence of veteran forward Elton Brand (waived via the Amnesty Clause this summer), Young is playing more minutes than ever before (35.7 MPG), and for good reason. In addition to having, statistically, one of his most efficient offensive seasons to date (53.3 FG%), his work on the defensive end has improved dramatically this season. With Young on the floor, the Sixers allow 5.5 fewer points per 100 opponent possessions this season. On the whole, the team is a net +17.8 points per 100 possessions when the 6-8 forward is on the floor. For an idea of just how impressive that number is: LeBron's James' on/off net is +9.4, Carmelo Anthony's is +10.7, Kevin Durant's is +12.3, and Kevin Love's is just +0.1.
Zach Randolph is second in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game (and third in total rebounds), with 4.8 per game. It is no coincidence that 47.4% of his shot attempts come from within three feet of the basket. Keeping Randolph off the offensive glass and, therefore, limiting his opportunities to score easy second-chance buckets will be key in limiting his effectiveness. He's shooting just 36.2% from outside the paint.
They call the FedEx Forum in Memphis "The Grindhouse". This season, the name has declared undeniable truth. The Grizz are 12-2 at home this season and have not allowed any team to score in triple figures at FedEx Forum (they allow just 86.9 points per game at home).
Failure To Launch
The Grizzlies suffered perhaps their worst loss of the season Saturday in Houston, when the Rockets handled them 121-96. The 25-point loss was the team's worst since New Year's Day 2012, when they fell to the Bulls by a margin of 40 points (64-104) in Chicago.