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Game On: Hornets @ Grizzlies
Since the All-Star break the Hornets are 2-7 and have lost Jason Smith and Austin Rivers to season ending injuries. They started off by losing heartbreakers to Cleveland and Dallas, but recently it has just turned tragic, as 17 and 25 point leads have be lost to Orlando and Los Angeles, respectively. All of that has added up to the fan base beginning to question Monty Williams and his bizarre rotations.
Tonight the Hornets travel to Memphis to play a team that they have had some success this year, as they won in this same building just six weeks ago. But again, the Hornets are without Smith and Rivers who combined to go 7-11 for 22 points in the last meeting. Even more importantly, the Grizzlies are without Rudy Gay, who could have arguably been the Hornets MVP last time around, as he went 3-17 in typical Rudy Gay fashion. But Rudy won’t be there to kick around any more, meaning that this will be a tough game to win. Tough, but if they can get the following three things done, they can do it.
Keys To Victory
1. Limit the Grizzlies on the Offensive Glass
Memphis has the highest offensive rebound rate in the league, as they grab almost 32% of their missed shots. With Jason Smith gone, Ryan Anderson and/or Robin Lopez will have to step this part of their game up to help Aminu and Davis on the glass if the Hornets want a win tonight. Some good news: Zach Randolph is doubtful for tonight.
2. Take Care of the Ball
This applies in any game, but deserves extra focus tonight because the Grizzlies are 2nd in the league in turnover percentage and they are 7th in the league in points per possession in transition. Not only can guys like Conley, Allen, and Bayless turn you over, but they can finish on the other end as well.
3. Get Mike Conley in Foul Trouble
The perception has been that this team is lead by its bigs, but Mike Conley is the straw that stirs the drink. When he is on the court, they are a top 10 offense and the #1 defense in the league. When he is off, they are the worst offense in the NBA (off. rating of 99) and a very average defense (106). Nobody else has on/off splits even close to that. All you have to do is look at is the last game, where Conley got injured four minutes into the game and the Hornets coasted to victory.
If Vasquez can get him off his game or get him into foul trouble, the Hornets can pull the upset.