Memphis Grizzlies and Tayshaun Prince hit Detroit...

Essentials

  • Teams: Memphis Grizzlies (33-18) at Detroit Pistons (21-33)
  • Date: February 19, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FS Detroit Plus

What to look for

The Memphis Grizzlies will be at the Palace of Auburn Hills tonight to take on the Detroit Pistons after winning three games in a row.

Sentimental Pistons fans will have one last opportunity to see Tayshaun Prince tonight when he starts for the Grizzlies in tonight’s contest in his first ever return to Detroit as member of an opposing team since being traded a few weeks earlier.

Hopefully he is showered with a standing ovation for his contributions to the franchise.

But as it pertains to Memphis, that very same trade changed their team dynamic to some extent.

Indeed, Lionel Hollins’ team owns the second best defense in the league, allowing 97.7 points per 100 possessions; but that very same defense has taken a small step back since swapping players.

Since the trade, the Grizzlies are surrendering 99.6 points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.

The difference isn’t huge but one still exists. And keep in mind, it’s not as if Memphis has faced a long list of offensive juggernauts. The teams they’ve faced are the Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings.

The most glaring difference in the Grizzlies’ defense is their lack of aggression. Prior to jettisoning Rudy Gay, the players had an impressive level of comfort defensively that allowed them to play an aggressive and physical defense on the perimeter with Marc Gasol cleaning things up on the back end whenever his teammates were beat.

With the small switch in personnel, it’s possible that the current Memphis players need to develop that type of defensive chemistry to force opponents into more miscues and tough shots.

It’s worth noting that the Grizzlies’ coaching staff may have used the All-Star break as an opportunity to assess their players’ strength and weaknesses to tweak things a little and get the roster playing in concert with one another.

Offensively though, Memphis is still a scary team to defend because of their play on the interior. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are two physical big men that pound the boards and score on the block.

Gasol is a matchup nightmare because he plays in both the high and low post and understands where to attack defenses be it with his passing, scoring or screening.

The Spaniard will run hand offs, pick-and-rolls, pick-and-pops or simply camp out on the perimeter and pick apart a defense with his multiple skills. His pairing alongside Randolph makes the Grizzlies one of the most unique teams in the league because they can invert their offense and post up a player like Tayshaun Prince with both big men camped out on the perimeter and not spend an inordinate amount of time being worried about their spacing because of Gasol’s passing (if by inadvertence Lakers fans are reading this, they are probably quite disgusted considering how Mike D’Antoni has used Pau Gasol this season).

Surprisingly, Memphis only converts 35.9 percent of their spot up jumpers per Synergy Sports. This would lead you to believe that their offense is a train wreck considering that they can’t space the floor, but the Grizzlies still score 100.6 points per 100 possessions (tied for 19th in the NBA) because of how efficient they are in the post, how well they share the ball and how they pound the offensive glass.

In other words, despite Rudy Gay being in Toronto, the Memphis Grizzlies are still a difficult team to play.

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Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

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