Friday’s disappointing loss to the Detroit Pistons featured the Kings struggling to find any consistent offense while consistently turning over the ball. It won’t be any easier against the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the NBA’s most talented defensive teams and a favorite to compete for the Western Conference title, according to Barrystickets.com. Talented from top to bottom, the Grizzlies are far better than their 4-5 record indicates and the Kings will have to contend with a dark-horse championship possibility as they look to get back on track.
|C: DeMarcus Cousins, 6’11, Kentucky |
22.8 PPG, 10 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 48.3% FG
|C: Marc Gasol, 7’1, Spain |
16.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 47% FG
|PF: Jason Thompson, 6’11, Rider |
6.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 41.5% FG
|PF: Zach Randolph, 6’9, Michigan St. |
14.3 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 51.4% FG
|SF: John Salmons, 6’6, Miami (FL) |
4.9 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 30% FG
|SF: Tayshaun Prince, 6’9, Kentucky |
6.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 41.1% FG
|SG: Ben McLemore, 6’5, Kansas |
7.8 PPG, 2.5 APG, 38.3% FG
|SG: Tony Allen, 6’4, Oklahoma St. |
9.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.1 SPG, 58.1% FG
|PG: Greivis Vasquez, 6’6, Maryland |
10.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.1 TPG, 48.4% FG
|PG: Mike Conley, 6’1, Ohio St. |
19.1 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.7 SPG, 49.6% FG
Key Bench Players:
|G: Isaiah Thomas, 5’11, Washington |
27.8 MPG, 18.1 PPG, 5 APG, 47.9% FG
|G: Jerryd Bayless, 6’3, Arizona |
18.7 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 34% FG
|G: Marcus Thornton, 6’4, LSU |
28.3 MPG, 10.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 36.6% FG
|G: Mike Miller, 6’8, Florida |
24.3 MPG, 8 PPG, 4.3 RPG
|F: Patrick Patterson, 6’9, Kentucky |
23 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG
|C: Kosta Koufos, 7’0, Ohio St. |
16 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG
Last Three Contests:
April 7, 2013: Grizzlies @ Kings – Grizzlies 89, Kings 87
February 12, 2013: Kings @ Grizzlies – Grizzlies 108, Kings 101
January 18, 2013: Kings @ Grizzlies – Grizzlies 89, Kings 65
Vasquez had his first bad game in a Kings uniform on Friday night, finishing with eight turnovers and six assists in the loss. Mike Conley is one of the league’s craftiest defensive point guards, and he and his backcourt mate Tony Allen combine for 3.8 steals per game.
Add in the fact that Conley is of the leagues fastest points, and you’ve got a concerning matchup. DeMarcus Cousins has developed a ton this year, but one of the most impressive improvements has been his post defense, particularly when rotating to cover someone attacking the basket. Cousins has become very solid at stopping the attacker, and he’ll likely be stuck rotating quite a lot in this game if Vasquez can’t guard his old teammate in Conley.
Three Things to Watch:
1. Cousins vs. Grizzlies bruisers: Cousins still struggles against bigs who can match him in sheer muscle (Exhibit A: Andrew Bogut of the Warriors). Here he faces off against reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, who can hold his ground against Cousins. Add in Zach Randolph (260 pounds of pure force) for rotations, and Cousins will be playing one of the strongest big-man dous in the league.
2. Get some help!: Cousins was the lone King who had a “excellent” game against the Pistons. Isaiah Thomas played well in spurts, but the Kings still have serious problems when it comes to across-the-board effort. Marcus Thornton, Ben McLemore, Jason Thompson and John Salmons combined to shoot just 6-25 from the field. The Grizzlies are stacked with excellent defenders at every position, which is exceedingly concerning given the Kings abysmal offense lately.
3. Force the Tempo: Sacramento is a team built for a faster-paced offense, while the Grizzlies excel at slow-tempo, grind-it-out basketball. If the Kings can continually force the Grizzlies to play faster and keep up with the Kings athletically, they’ll have a shot against a very good squad.
Prediction: Grizzlies 92, Kings 83