There will be a reunion as the Dallas Mavericks (12-14) face off against the Memphis Grizzlies (17-6). As an opponent, O.J. Mayo returns to Memphis. It will be very interesting to see Mayo responds to the situation. He’s definitely aware that the game is a situation where he wants to do well and his former team wants to do well. The Memphis Grizzlies have started the season 17‐6, the best start in franchise history. Memphis has accomplished this despite playing the league’s seventh‐most difficult schedule, win percentage of .526, thus far. Memphis has been nearly unbeatable at home, winning 22 of its last 24 games at FedExForum, highlighted by a franchise‐record 15‐game home winning streak from 3/18 through 11/16 of 2012.
This will be the second night of a back-to-back for the Mavericks. The Mavericks are 1-6 in the first half of a back-to-back and 2-4 in the second half of a back-to-back this season. The Mavericks have 16 back-to-backs in 2012-13, with only one stretch of four games in five nights. In total, 10 back-to-backs are on the road, three begin at home and conclude on the road and three are road-to-home. Dallas played 22 back-to-backs in 2011-12, going 7-15 in the first half and 13-9 in the second half of those back-to-backs.
Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies took the 2011-12 season series with the Mavericks, 2-1. The home team won all three meetings in 2011-12. The Mavericks hold an all-time record of 51-15 against the Grizzlies in the regular season, but Memphis has won eight of the last 13 meetings between the two clubs. The Grizzlies have also won three straight and six of the last eight in Memphis. Shawn Marion averaged 11.7 points, a team-high 8.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.0 blocks and 31.7 minutes in three starts against the Grizzlies last season. Roddy Beaubois averaged 11.0 points, 4.0 assists and 27.7 minutes in three games. Vince Carter averaged 9.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 blocks and 28.0 minutes in three starts. Brandan Wright averaged 8.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 19.7 minutes in three games against the Grizzlies in 2011-12.
It’s a Small World:
O.J. Mayo played his first four NBA seasons with the Grizzlies from 2008-12. Mayo appeared in 301 of a possible 312 games with Memphis and averaged 15.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 32.8 minutes. Mayo was named NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2009 and runner-up to Derrick Rose for the 2008-09 NBA Rookie of the Year Award after averaging 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 38.0 minutes in 82 games (82 starts).
Dahntay Jones also played his first four NBA seasons with Memphis from 2003-07. Grizzlies forward Darrell Arthur is from Dallas and attended South Oak Cliff High School. Dominique Jones was originally drafted by Memphis with the 25th overall pick in the 2010 Draft, but was traded to Dallas for cash considerations. Mavericks forward Elton Brand and Grizzlies big man Marreese Speights played three seasons together on the Sixers from 2008-11. Mavericks big man Brandan Wright and Grizzlies guard Wayne Ellington were both freshmen on North Carolina’s 2006-07 ACC Championship Team. Wright grew up in Nashville, Tenn., and attended Brentwood Academy. Wright earned Tennessee’s Division II Mr. Basketball title in 2004, 2005 and 2006, becoming the first three-time recipient at any level of Tennessee basketball. Wright was a four-time MVP of the Tennessee Division II private school state championship tournament. He led Brentwood Academy to four consecutive state titles, a first in Tennessee high school basketball history.
1. KEEP PROTECTING THE BALL. Dallas is finally getting things turned around in the turnover department. The Mavericks tied a season-low with nine turnovers against the Heat on 12/20, also had 9 vs. Portland on 11/5. Dallas recorded only 11 turnovers in the previous game vs. Philadelphia on 12/18. The Memphis Grizzlies have forced opponents into at least 10 turnovers in 127 consecutive games, by far the longest active streak in the NBA and the third‐longest such run since the start of the 1992‐93 NBA season. The Grizzlies’ streak of forcing 10‐plus turnovers is the league’s longest since the Golden State Warriors’ 190‐game run from 1993‐96 and the Seattle SuperSonics’ 155‐game streak from 1993‐95.
2. Let Mayo be Mayo. O.J. Mayo has averaged 25.2 points on 55.5 percent shooting, 62.5 percent from 3, in Dallas’ 12 wins this season compared to 15.9 points on 40.1 percent shooting, 35.9 percent from 3, in the Mavericks’ 14 losses. Dallas is 7-1 this season in games in which he scored at least 25 points and 3-0 in games in which he scored at least 30. The Mavericks are also 11-6 in games in which Mayo was their leading scorer, includes ties), and that includes each of the team’s fourovertime losses. Mayo has averaged 20.2 points overall this season. He has increased his scoring average by 7.6 points per game from 2011-12 to 2012-13, averaged 12.6 points per game with Memphis last year. He has 14 games with 20-plus points this season, after he recorded only six 20-point efforts with Memphis last year. Mayo made his 200th career start at Phoenix on 12/6/12. He is the only player that has started every game for Dallas this season. He came off the bench in all 66 games for Memphis in 2011-12.
3. Don’t back down against a physical team. There are no X’s and O’s or stats with this one. It just boils down to digging in deep and battling this physical group in Memphis. With Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph providing grit, toughness and versatility, the Mavericks will have their hands full. This is a brutal stretch with the schedule for the Mavericks. They might as well make the most of it and try to steal some games. Quitting or backing down won’t do them any good.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.