Cavs 105, Grizzlies 89
In a nutshell:
Coach Mike Brown said his team came in keenly aware of what the Grizzlies inflicted upon them in their loss t them earlier in the season.
That was 50 points on the interior. That didn't come close to happening tonight as the Cavs beat the Grizzlies in the paint 64-34 in a game they dominated from start to finish. After going ahead 28-16 in the first quarter they didn't have to look back and they never trailed in the game.
The Cavs featured balanced offense, another sparkling performance by Shaquille O'Neal (13 points, 13 rebounds) and another double-digit effort from Daniel Gibson with 16 points.
But where a heaping portion of credit belongs is with Anderson Varejao and, to a lesser degree, J.J. Hickson who handcuffed All-Star Zach Randolph, holding him to just eight points and four rebounds.
Game: Cavs (39-11) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (26-22) Broadcast: TV: FSOhio WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM) Starters:
Cavs: LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Anthony Parker (G); Daniel Gibson(G).
Grizzlies: Rudy Gay (F), Zach Randolph (F); Marc Gasol (C); O.J. Mayo (G); Mike Conley (G)
Cavs: Danny Green (soreness) - GAME TIME DECISION; Mo Williams (left shoulder sprain), Leon Powe (left knee surgery) and Delonte West (fractured finger) - OUT.
Grizzlies: Sam Young, Darrell Arthur.
Doormats no longer, the Grizzlies are coming off a victory over the Lakers last night. They also beat the Cavs on a buzzer beater when Mike Conley beat Shaquille O'Neal on a pick-and-roll, a play that coach Mike Brown said that he would defend the same way if given the opportunity. We'll see if it happens that way tonight.
Much of the Grizzlies' strength lies in the frontcourt with Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay who together average more than 40 points per game and close to 18 rebounds. Memphis is the only team with two players averaging 20 points per game. As a team, they average 52 points in the paint per game, having scored more than 50 points on the interior more than 30 times this season. That will test the Cavs' interior defense which averages a league-low 34.6 po0ints in the paint. In short: something has to give.