Tonight the Memphis Grizzlies will make an important trip out to the Quicken Loans Arena to face off against the hot and soaring Cleveland Cavaliers on an exciting Monday night in the NBA.
The match up is a close one as both teams have winning records north of .500. The Grizzlies have upgraded to a faster pace in their offense since they lost Marc Gasol. Surprisingly it worked out quite well for them as they’ve just been adding up the wins. They’ve lost only two games over the last month.
Memphis’ Zach Randolph has upped his production with averages of 20 points and 6.8 rebounds over his last five games. Mike Conley has averaged 15.8 points and 6.6 assists in his last five. But overall, it;s not individual efforts but the combined team effort where role players like JaMychal Green and Lance Stephenson have benefited from the rapid and high paced offense.
If you look at rankings, Memphis is currently sitting in fifth position in the Western Conference. They have a 4.5 game cushion over Dallas who sits in sixth place. So when the playoffs start they’ll probably face either Oklahoma City or Los Angeles in the first round of the post-season.
Grizzlies’ Tony Allen who hurt his knee was been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Suns as Fox Sports Southeast reported. Allen was ruled doubtful earlier in the day, so it won’t be a surprise that he’ll remain sidelined for another game, his eighth straight. With that in mind, team mates P.J. Hairston, Vince Carter and Lance Stephenson will have to pick up the slack and share the additional minutes load which are now available through Allen’s injury. His might have a chance to return on Monday versus the Cavalier, but that seems highly doubtful.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers are going to be working hard and trying to build on their current three-game win streak after they took down the Celtics last night in a decisive 120-103 win Saturday night. The visitors though actually got off to a great start and shot an impressive 60 percent from the field to lead by 18 points in the first quarter.
But the Cavs came back. LeBron James got 28 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Team mate Kyrie Irving added 20 points to that, and six more players ended up with double figures as the Cavs fought back from an early 18-point deficit to crush the highly functioning Boston Celtics, and thereby improved to 44-17 on the season. That gave them a 2.5 game cushion over the Toronto Raptors who currently are in second placed in the Eastern Conference and nipping at the Cavs’ heels.
The Cavaliers having overcome a nervous start to beat out the Celtics in Cleveland are probably feeling a bit more confident now that they have proven that they can come back when in a bind. They did that by stepping it up a gear in the second half, forcing Boston into six turnovers with shooting guard Shumpert finding his range.
Isaiah Thomas scored 27 points for Boston but he just couldn’t keep up with LeBron and Irving. The win by 17 jas given them a major boost ahead of their next game against the Grizzlies.
They’ve also beaten their last two opponents by a combined 42 points over the weekend, so that streak probably won’t end with Memphis.
Our Pick: Cavs over Grizzlies, 102-98