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Friday, 29 September 2017 14:34

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Boston Celtics: 2017-18 NBA Season Preview

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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Boston Celtics: 2017-18 NBA Season Preview | Powered by CLNS Media

 

Boston Celtics Newsfeed 2017-18 NBA Season Preview

Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies

2016-17 Round-up: The Grizzlies finished last season 43-39, earning a No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. There, Memphis rebounded from a pair of blowout losses in San Antonio to even the series in the grindhouse. The Spurs picked it back up shooting the ball in Game 5 at home, winning 116-103, before closing it out back in Memphis in Game 6, 103-96.

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. were paired up to strong results again, combining to average 40 points, 10.9 assists, 9.8 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. Zach Randolph slide to a nearly full-time bench role, but still managed 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds a night.

In the first year of Chandler Parson’s monster contract, he couldn’t find the bottom of the net and hardly found the court at all. He played only 34 games, averaging under 20 minutes and submitting shooting splits of 33.8/26.9/81.4.

Offseason Grades: Eleven days in and we finally have a team that had a relatively calm offseason. With $74 million tied up in Conley, Gasol and Parsons next season, the Grizzlies weren’t big players in free agency and didn’t have a first-round pick.

The biggest things that did happen were, unfortunately, departures. Long-time culture-setters Tony Allen (New Orleans) and Zach Randolph (Sacramento) have left in free agency.

The Grizzlies have filled out the roster around their big-money three with low-risk, short-term signings like Ben McLemore, Tyreke Evans, Mario Chalmers, Rade Zagorac. They also recently made the decision to re-sign JaMychal Green for two years and $17 million.

Training Camp Questions: Parsons is the big question mark for Memphis this season. After being ruled out indefinitely last season with a meniscus tear that came at the end of a string of knee problems, his max contract has been a hindrance. However, prior to 2016-17, he was a dependable and at-times deadly outside shooter and slasher. If reports of his rapidly improving health and mobility are true, he could be the difference between a Grizzlies lottery team and a legitimate playoff team.

Elsewhere there are two rookies to take notice on in Ivan Rabb (35th) and Dillon Brooks (45th), both of whom were targeted and traded for in the second round on draft night.

McLemore, just 24, saw his usage limited the last two years in Sacramento, but improved his efficiency and could be more productive with more time. He is recovering from a foot injury to start the season. Evans, like Parsons is a potentially dangerous scorer with recent knee problems holding him back. Chalmers hasn’t played in the NBA since March 2016 when he ruptured his Achilles’. Zagorac is a 6-9 wing and was the 2015-16 MVP in Liga ABA. Wayne Selden Jr. is also a guy who had an impressive Summer League and could be in line to start at the shooting guard spot with Allen gone.

Next Move They Make: Given the three big salaries, there aren’t many big moves to be made in Memphis, and given how good Conley and Gasol are together, I don’t see them switching direction any time soon. If Parsons doesn’t right the ship, nobody is touching that contract.

The Grizzlies are stuck in a hyper-competitive West with a good, not great team.

How they Beat the Boston Celtics: Memphis has just a sliver of a chance of getting out of the Western Conference but will meet Boston twice this season on Dec. 16 in Memphis and Feb. 26 in Boston. Last year’s matchups were bizarrely atypical given both team’s reputations. The Celtics won both games, dominating the boards in the first contest, while the Grizzlies were the ones jacking up more threes. The Celtics pace of play was too quick though, and Memphis surrendered too many turnovers.

Conley vs. Irving is going to be a fun matchup, and Horford vs. Gasol is peak Basketball nerd content. Unless one of their low-risk signings becomes a high-reward, though, the Celtics should be too much to handle offensively.

Trending: Memphis is trending pretty horizontally. They finished seventh last season and the only squad above them maybe dropping out is Utah. But then, beneath them will be Denver, New Orleans and Minnesota all fighting for a playoff spot, as well as 2017 eight-seed Portland nipping at the Grizzlies heels.

Final Record/Standings Prediction: 44-38, 8th in Western Conference.

Mike Walsh

Mike Walsh is the CLNS Media Network's Boston Celtics Content and Newsfeed Manager.

Mike is a graduate of Marist College with a degree in sports communications. He spent three years as a NBA Featured Columnist with Bleacher Report, where he was the site's top Boston Celtics writer.

Mike is a full-time sports writer with The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. He can be reached by email to MikeW@CLNSMedia.com or via Twitter @CLNS_Walsh.

Personal Website: www.WalshWrites.com