Opening Statements: Wizards vs Grizzlies, Game 27 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Grizzlies, Game 27

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Updated: December 23, 2015

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Teams: Wizards vs Grizzlies
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Grizzlies fav’d by 1 point


 

The Wizards and Grizzlies both find themselves in uncharted territory. Each are fielding small-ball lineups after several seasons of trotting out rotations that were great for paying homage to the bruising style of 1990’s NBA basketball, but were less optimal for the Association of the 21st century. These two teams have taken different paths to get to this point, but the conclusion remains the same: bigger is not always better.

The Grizzlies recently made the decision to move Zach Randolph to the bench for the first time in his Memphis tenure, and while there were mixed results at first, the Griz are finding their groove with Matt Barnes in the starting lineup. Maybe the last meeting between these two teams served as the light bulb going off in the heads of Memphis brass that this strategy was indeed the way to go moving forward.

Memphis destroyed the Wizards, 112-95, on December 14, and Barnes had his best game as a Grizzly, scoring 20 points and acting as the catalyst that got the Griz rolling in their new style. In that game, Memphis shot a blistering 10-for-15 from 3-point range and a season high 56.4 percent from the field overall.

The Wizards, on the other hand, have had to make the transition to much smaller lineups out of necessity, based on a plethora of injuries that have left them with a severely shortened rotation. This team has figured out a way to do more with less, winning their last two games without regular starters Bradley Beal (lower leg stress injury) and Otto Porter (bruised thigh). In fact, the Wizards had to defeat the Kings on Monday using just a seven-man rotation because sharp-shooter Gary Neal couldn’t play with lower back soreness.

The main contributors to the Wizards success over their last two games has been John Wall and Marcin Gortat, of course, but the ancillary players such as Garrett Temple, Kris Humphries, and Jared Dudley have stepped up their contributions to supplement the missing production.

Temple has produced back-to-back games in which he has eclipsed his career high with a 21-point outing against Charlotte and then a 23-point game against the Kings. Temple’s production is key for the Wizards while Beal is nursing his injury, and a good stretch of play has been overdue. Temple has struggled to find his shot, shooting just 30 percent on 3s after shooting 37 percent last season.

Humphries has had about an up-and-down a season as a player can possibly have, but now that the team has figured out that he is not the second coming of Channing Frye at 4 and removed him from the starting lineup, Humphries is free to thrive in a role that is much more suited for him. What’s that role? A third big whose 36.5 percent 3-point shooting is deemed an added bonus rather than being depended upon. Hump’s 3-for-3 shooting behind the arc and 15 points overall were a major contribution in the win against the Kings.

The man who replaced Humphries as the starting 4, Dudley, is getting into a serious groove as a Wizard, and his play may be the key to the Wizards making another run for the postseason. Dudley currently leads the entire NBA in 3-point shooting percentage at 48.7 percent, but somehow he only attempts three per game.

Another primary objective for the 2015-16 Wizards should be protecting home court. The Wiz currently sit at 6-7 at the Verizon Center, after going 29-12 in home games last season and actually creating an atmosphere that can be constituted as a home court advantage. There is no better way to close out 2015 than stringing together a few home wins (tonight versus Memphis and on the 28th versus the Clippers), and hopefully that will give the Wizards some momentum going into 2016 where they open with a four-game home stand against four current Eastern Conference playoff teams, according to the standings: Orlando, Miami, Cleveland, and Toronto.

Notes.

1.) The Wizards waived center Ryan Hollins and have signed wing player Jarrell Eddie from the Austin Spurs Roster in the NBADL. Eddie is known as a sharpshooter and given the Wizards current injury situation, Eddie could be thrust into action sooner rather than later.

2.) Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post is reporting that Alan Anderson could miss another 3-5 weeks recovering from off-season ankle surgery.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Writer
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.