home 2013-14, Blogs, Game Coverage Gameday: Wizards vs. Grizzlies – Run, John, run!

Gameday: Wizards vs. Grizzlies – Run, John, run!

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Wizards (25-25) at Grizzlies (27-23)

February 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM
FedExForum, Memphis, TN
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan

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Projected starting lineups:

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C- Marcin Gortat
PF- Nene
SF- Trevor Ariza
SG- Bradley Beal
PG- John Wall

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C- Marc Gasol
PF- Zach Randolph
SF- Tayshaun Prince
SG- Courtney Lee
PG- Nick Calathes

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Who’s hurt?

Wizards:
Al Harrington (knee)

Grizzlies:
Tony Allen – out (hand)
Mike Conley – game-time decision (ankle)
Quincy Pondexter – out (foot)

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First meeting since…

Some guy named John Wall scored 47 points and 8 assists. Yeeeeahhhhh. Oh, the Wizards also won 104-97.

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Key matchup

Nene v. Zach Randolph

Although Mike Conley is probably the most important player to the Grizzlies at this point, and Marc Gasol is the most valuable, Zach Randolph is the heart of the team. The Grizzlies upward trend coincided with a period of domination from Randolph, and their relevant downfall was matched up directly with the portion of time that Randolph was struggling through injury.

Randolph isn’t fast. He looks intimidating, but he is ten times stronger than he looks. He can’t jump more than six inches off of the floor, but he’s nearly impossible to box out. Nene is similar to Randolph in his craftiness around the hoop, but he doesn’t have Randolph’s range or toughness. Nene does have an advantage in the quickness department, which he will have to rely on heavily. Posting up Randolph and expecting to back him down is a losing battle.

Spotlight

John Wall

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Mike Conleys status is still up in the air as he’s recovering from an ankle injury. If he plays, Wall will have his work cut out for him. Conley is averaging 18 points and 6 assists a game this year and the Grizzlies are clearly much better with him in the lineup. They’ve gone 2-5 since he’s been out. If he remains out, John Wall should have a field day. Conley also had his work cut out for him on defense against a much faster John Wall, and now it might be his replacement who gets the brunt of that assignment. Wall doing what he did last time against the Grizzlies (see freak show clip above) is an idea of how bad this matchup could be in terms of Wall’s physical attributes against the overall athleticism and speed of the Grizzlies as a whole. Oh yeah, John Wall is probably twice as good now as he was last March when these teams faced off.

The X-Factor

Transition points.

The Wizards are likely the best transition team in the league. WHAT? That was weird. With Wall making a quick switch of gears from defense to offense, and Ariza finding his spot in the corner like clockwork, the Wizards fastbreak is predictable yet nearly unstoppable. John Wall is finishing at the rim better than he has his whole career and teams haven’t had found a way to foul him without giving him an and-1 opportunity.

The Grizzlies rank 23rd in transition defense, and its easy to see why. They are devoid of “full court athletes.” Guys like Tony Allen might lock you down in a confined space, but they won’t run you down in the open court for a chase-down block. He’s not even playing! Zach Randolph is probably last in any race he’s ever been involved in, and their center is a Gasol. Nuff’ said. Conley is one of their best athletes but even he’s been out with a foot injury. They’ve been 2-5 without him and that’s exactly why. Wall needs to do his best Forrest Gump impression and just run any chance he gets. Run, John, Run.

Outlook

If Conley is out, I don’t see how the Wizards don’t run roughshod all over the Grizzlies slow defense. Of course it would only make sense, #SoWizards in a way, if the Wizards didn’t take advantage of these obvious shortcomings of this Memphis squad. Expect Randolph to have the game of his life as that’s all the Grizzlies have at this point. Bradley Beal should be thanking his lucky stars that Tony Allen will sit this one out. The Grizz are just too banged up and John Wall is just too good right now.

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