The Boston Celtics (6-10, 2-4 home) host the Memphis Grizzlies (7-7, 4-3 away) on Wednesday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
COACH'S SCOUTING REPORT: The Celtics already dropped a 95-88 decision in Memphis earlier this month. Asked about the rematch, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, "First of all, I think they’re playing much better than when they played us the first time, so you have to take that into account. They went on a west coast swing and won and, obviously without [Marc] Gasol, they change a little bit, but they don’t change a lot. [Kosta] Koufus was a guy that started for a team that won close to 60 games last year. They’ve got a really good basketball team. They’re really athletic. They’re really deep. They’ve got a great point guard [in Mike Conley]. So we’ve got out hands full. We played them hard. We played well at times. And we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit late. But they had a lot to do with it."
CONLEY IN FOCUS: Without Gasol, the Grizzlies are very much the .500 team that their record suggests they are. They rank in the bottom third of the league in offensive and defensive rating. But Conley puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses, causing breakdowns with dribble penetration. He's averaging 18.8 points per game on 49 percent shooting and is averaging 1.04 points per possession, which ranks him in the 85th percentile among all NBA players, according to Synergy Sports data. Conley had a rough outing last time vs. Boston (missing 10 of 12 shots while scoring a season-low 10 points) but you can't expect him to be bottled up like that again (or if he does, the Celtics need to make sure someone like Jerryd Bayless doesn't make up for it).
BENCH BURST: The Celtics' bench carried it during its most recent win over the Bobcats. Now the key is getting sustained production from both first and second unit. When Boston's starters struggled Monday, Stevens didn't hesitate to go to a backup lineup that thrived behind Phil Pressey and Gerald Wallace. Said Stevens, "The thing I like about it right now is, we’ve got a good team-ness about us. The last two games, even the last four games, we’ve played pretty darn well. We played well in San Antonio, we played well for 2 ½ quarters against Indiana, and, to be honest with you, I thought Indiana turned it up to a different level and I thought we ran out of steam. I was pleased on the back end of all this travel that we beat Atlanta and Charlotte. That was pretty neat and we needed all 10 guys that played to do it."
WHAT ELSE?: Avery Bradley is coming off one of his poorest outings of the season. He'll be key Wednesday in helping to contain the guards, including Conley. ... The Celtics are 2-0 since Brandon Bass rejoined the starting lineup in place of injured Kelly Olynyk. ... Kris Humphries earned rave reviews from Stevens for his part in Monday's win in Charlotte, including providing firm defense against Al Jefferson off the bench. Good things are happening with Humphries on the court and it will be interesting to see if he gets extended run coming off Monday's game.