Starting 2013 with a growl: Grizzlies @ Celtics preview

Can the guys in green start 2013 off the right way?

Can the guys in green start 2013 off the right way?

Game time: 2013 starts off with the Grizzlies at TD Garden tomorrow, 1130hrs AEST.

Watch on: Make sure your League Pass is primed and ready to go, because..

Roster changes:

1. you do not want to miss the comeback every C’s fan has been waiting for:

Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford

Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Avery Bradley’s debut performance. All hail the team saviour! (I’m kidding.)

2. Rondo is not 100%, so he is listed as day-to-day for now with his hip bruise.

3. Wilcox is still out with his thumb injury (sprained ulnar collateral).

Defense

While I’m not hoping for the Celtics to morph directly into the tenacious defensive monster it has always been, some improvement on pick and roll defense (with Bradley’s contributions) would really be nice.

Memphis as always is an offensive juggernaut in the paint, anchored by the twin towers Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Unlike the Utah Jazz however (who thrive on the inside exclusively), the well-balanced Grizzlies have long-range threats in the form of Wayne Ellington (bench), Mike Conley (PG) and Rudy Gay (SF).

1. Limiting layups
Bradley’s return isn’t exactly the second coming of James Posey while he shakes off his rust, but I’m hoping it will be enough to limit the layup lines the C’s have been giving away (refer to last game against the Kings). Dribble penetration must be limited.

2. Denying the twin towers on offense
When it comes to one-on-one coverage, expect either Randolph or Gasol to kill us. KG is not going to be playing the full game, Wilcox is out, Bass is definitely not going to be enough and Varnado is still an unknown on post defense.

I’m not sure what the game plan is, but I would expect double-teams to be thrown at them once the catch is made, with lots of subsequent scrambling (read: defensive rotations) all over the place. The only problem with this idea: rotate too slowly, we get burnt.

3. Defensive rebounding/second chance points
This is just another of those things that’s harped about on every single game so far. It’s especially important on teams that emphasize offensive rebounding like the Jazz and Grizzlies, because it can and will sway the scoreline by 4 points: a putback (2 points), and a loss of transition (2 points).

The point I’m trying to make: if we don’t rebound on D, we lose. Of course, we lose if we can’t make the bloody baskets too, but getting stops is more important than scoring IMO.


Summary: Have realistic expectations, understand Bradley is not going to change things in his first game, and hope for the best on rebounding and help defense. Call me pessimistic, but it feels like a potential loss.

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