Memphis is basically playing their seasonal rotation right now trying to build something among the team. With three starters in unfamiliar places and none over 24 years old or with more than 2 years experience with the team chemistry is a commodity the Grizzlies are very short on. O J Mayo has started erratic but that is expected of rookies, especially when they are thrust into starting roles. Rudy Gay is taking his time getting going but still is leading the team in scoring. Rebounding is another issue for Rudy but starting the twin towers of Gasol and Milicic may relieve him of some rebounding concerns. This is the beginning of one of the longest road trips of the season for the Grizzlies with their next 5 games on the road.
Indiana needs to find a new medicine man because the team is wracked with injuries right now. Where is Dunleavy (knee)? Where is Troy Murphy (? Where is Marquis Daniels, Travis Deiner and Jamal Tinsley? Oh wait, forget about Tinsley. That is a totally different issue with him. Indiana is getting their starters and key reserves back but until then no one is going to fully appreciate what this team is capable of doing. Coach Jim O'Brian has said that he intends on shortening the lineup in advance of the season opener. This is Indiana's last home game of the pre-season as well so expect the Pacers to put on a show for the increasingly disinterested fans.
Point Guards: Mike Conley vs T J Ford
This is no place for slow play. T J Ford and Mike Conley have been compared many times because of the speed they bring to the game and their lack of perimeter shooting. Conley may be putting an end to that rep however. In only his 2nd season Conley has been shredding 3 pt shots to the tune of 50% behind the line. Ford has been leading the Pacers in scoring by beating people to the lane. Should be an interesting match.
Shooting Guards: O J Mayo vs Mike Dunleavy
When people thought that O J Mayo would be too short to play SG this is what people were thinking about. Mike Dunleavy is 6-10 and that is tall for any SG but he also has a complete game. Mayo will struggle to prevent Dunleavy from getting off his long shot but he should be able to create matchup problems as well on the offensive end. A coach's son Dunleavy won't be caught unprepared but you have to wonder how game ready he will be in his first game of the pre-season. Mayo is in game shape and wants to prove he has an NBA game so he should test the knee early to see how Dunleavy reacts.
Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Danny Granger
Granger came back to the lineup for the first time on Wednesday and didn't show too much rust. A solid all-around player Granger is looking to take a major step forward this season like Rudy Gay did last year. Rudy has been coasting for much of the pre-season looking to find a groove with the new starters but has still led the team in scoring and highlight real plays. Granger and Rudy are going to be major players at the SF position for years to come and this will always be a great matchup. Rudy has the edge right now but Granger has motivation to improve.
Power Forwards: Darko Milicic vs Jeff Foster
This is a guess at PF for Indiana. Until Troy Murphy comes back there really isn't a quality player for the Pacers at this position. Foster is a solid rebounder who understands his role on the team. With the promise of Roy Hibbert Foster needs to prove he can back up at the PF position to find playing time however. Darko Milicic has been an enigma since entering the league but has looked sharper in the pre-season back in his natural PF position. Drafted as an offensive PF he developed into a decent defensive C but his confidence issues and repeated injuries held him back in that role. If he can avoid the injury bug Darko may finally make his mark this season and at only 23 he still has time to resurrect his career.
Centers: Marc Gasol vs Rasho Nesterovic
Gasol has been impressive at the center position during the pre-season but he is still a rookie and gets fooled by more experienced players. Rasho showed the rookie a few veteran moves in their last matchup exploiting Gasol repeatedly in the first quarter of the game. Gasol responded well however and ended up with a double double. Rasho is being pushed by the strong play of Roy Hibbert so he should look to be aggressive again so Gasol will have to pay attention to Rasho and show he won't fall for the same fakes. Rasho now needs to show if he has any more veteran plays up his sleeve.
Benches: Memphis vs Indiana
Memphis' starters matchup well with Indiana's but the bench has been a problem for the Grizzlies all pre-season. Kyle Lowry has struggled meshing as the lead PG. Hakim Warrick is supposed to provide offense off the bench but seems unhappy about not starting and hasn't performed well yet in that role. The return of Marco Jaric may help ease the playmaking headaches Lowry has faced. Darrell Arthur is coming on strong right now but it is difficult for rookies to put together consistent performances. Javaris Crittenton needs to find his role off the bench Quinton Ross, from SMU, has been one of the brighter spots off the bench with solid play as the SF. Indiana's bench has been bolstered by the return of Dunleavy, Foster and Granger. Hibbert and Brandon Rush have been two of the best rookies during pre-season. Jarrett Jack should provide quality play at the point.
Indy Cornrows: Simply the best coverage of the Pacers on the internet and one of the best NBA sites. I highly recommend you check this site out.
Pacers Insider - This is the blog for the IndyStar. Imagine Ron Tillery with a bit more of a cheerleading attitude.
Pacers Pulse - The MVN's Pacers coverage. Not bad but the layout isn't as interesting to read as Indy Cornrows in my opinion.