Tonight the Hornets (43-32, 25-11 at home) take on the Grizzlies (42-33, 15-23 on the road). If the playoffs ended today, the Hornets would be the sixth seed in the West and the Grizzlies the 8th seed. The Hornets have already played (and beat) the Grizzlies twice this season, and a win tonight would give them a two game lead over the Grizzlies plus the tie breaker with six games left in the season. While it's scary playing the Grizzlies without DWest, Hornets fans will remember we have already beat the Grizzlies without West this season (in the teams last meeting, West left 3 minutes into the game with a sprained ankle). The Grizzlies are a tough matchup though, as Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph provide a lot of size upfront that can overwhelm our bigs.
Chris Paul vs Mike Conley
Conley's a decent PG, though I doubt he'll ever live up to his pre-draft hype (he was the number four overall pick in the 2007 draft). Chris Paul, on the other hand, is the best point guard in the game, and he reminds Conley every time the two meet. CP3 has averaged 21.5 points and 13 assists in the two games so far this season. Conley has enjoyed some offensive success against the Hornets, but no where near what Chris Paul has enjoyed against him. Look for that trend to continue tonight.
Oak and Carl Landry vs Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol
Randolph has had a tough time getting anything going against Oak so far this year, but with West out, the Hornets will likely be forced to match Oak up with Gasol and Landry against Randolph. Both Grizzlies big men will enjoy size and height advantages against the Hornets, so Oak and Landry will really need to bring their A-game to shut them down. Landry had 14 points and 10 boards in West's absence in the last matchup, so they are definitely capable, but it could be difficult.
Jarrett Jack, Willie Green, and Marco
Quite simply, these three are the reason we won the last matchup. Green and JJ went 6 of 11 from the field, with Jack ending with 19 points and Willie adding 15., while Marco shot six of 7 fand ended with 14 points. The Hornets had a lot of success in their three guard lineup against the Blazers Weds. night, and look for a lot of it against the Blazers tonight.
The line is even on this game. My gut and brain are telling me that, on paper, we can't keep up with the Griz. But I feel like CP3 refinds his shot against a team he's historically enjoyed a lot of success against and our three headed shooting guard monster continues their hot shooting (7 threes between the three of them... lock it up!) as the Hornets feed on the Hive momentum to steal one from the Grizzlies.
Hornets 98, Grizzlies 93