Coming off their impressive wire-to-wire win over the divisional rival New York Knicks over the weekend, the Sixers are set to collide with the bruising Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis has been on their Grit and Grind game, holding their last five opponents to a paltry 80.6 points per game while winning four of those games.
The strength of this Memphis team is its perfectly complementary big man duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The two big men are key to everything the Grizzlies do on both ends of the floor. When the two of them are on the floor together, the Grizz outscore opponents by 6.2 points per 100 possessions and turn the ball over two times less than their opponents per 100 possessions. They also crush it on the boards at both ends, rebounding 8.5 percent more shots than their opponents on both offense and defense.
A Possible Solution?
While maligned by fans, Spencer Hawes has been playing well as of late. Over the past five games, he’s posted a 58.7 effective field goal percentage, his hottest shooting stretch in quite some time. For a big man, Hawes takes an abnormally high percentage of his shots outside of the paint. Per NBA.com’s stats database, he takes 43.5 percent of his shots from mid-range.
That actually could work to the Sixers’ advantage against Memphis, provided Hawes remains an active participant in the offense. Playing primarily alongside Thad Young, Hawes will find himself matched with Gasol most often. While often positioning himself farther from the hoop, look for Hawes to draw the Spaniard away from the basket and disrupt Memphis’ dominance on the boards, a stat they lead the league in.