To preview the Mavericks' game against the Grizzlies, we've brought in Matt Moore, an NBA blogger over at CBS Sports who doubles as a diehard Memphis fan at Hardwood Paroxysm, one of the longest-running and most respected sites on the NBA blogosphere.
1. What's the latest on Zach Randolph's injury and do you expect him to be at 100% by the playoffs?
Zach's been practicing and participating in drills. No one's 100% for the playoffs, but he'll be at least there. It's a knee injury to an older player. He could be fine, he could fall off a cliff. No way of knowing.
2. How has Memphis been able to stay afloat despite losing both Randolph and Dallas native Darrell Arthur for most of the season?
Honestly, I have no idea. A lot of it is Rudy Gay, a lot of is Marreese Speights (offensively). They still get in passing lanes, they still pass the ball well when they do pass. Losing Marc Gasol would have been much, much worse.
3. The big question for the Grizzlies coming into the season was how they would re-integrate Rudy Gay after last season's unlikely playoff run. How would you rate his return from injury so far and do you think there are enough shots to go around for Gay, Randolph and Gasol?
B-. Gay still hasn't produced to the level I think he needs to get to for this team to compete for the West. He has to make the leap to being excellent in at least two areas and so far he's "very good in a couple." He just can't get his offense to max out, and that's what keeps this team from being a title contender.
4. Long-term, do you think this team as presently constructed can win an NBA championship?
No. They can compete for the West, they can put the fear of God into teams, they can put together another crazy run at the Finals, but they can't win a title. Randolph's getting older and Gay hasn't made the jump.
5. Over the last few years, there's been a lot of rumblings that the Grizzlies could be a potential target for cities trying to poach an NBA team. Is that still a concern after the way Memphis seemed to rally behind this team in the playoffs?
Absolutely. Even with the lease agreements in place in Memphis, Heisley's still going to look for a way out. Until he comes out and says they're pulling profit and he's happy, I'm not going to buy it.