Well, wasn’t that just terrible.
This game told me four little things…
-This team is lost without Mike Conley. After the Cavs withstood a medium-strength initial punch, they showed no fear of the elite Grizzlies. And they had no reason to show such. Rudy, ZBo, and Gasol went a combined 21-31…and we’ll not speak of the rest of the team. These three guys know how to do it themselves, while the rest rely on a PG to help them…and Bayless’ rhythm was clearly off by a mile. A guy like Bayless gets used to coming off the bench after being able to put a finger on the pulse of how the game is flowing. This night, JB was responsible for getting that rhythm going, and it did not suit him. Floor spacing was resoundingly bad all night, with several plays resulting in players actually bumping into one another on offense.
However, the jumper by Bayless to make it 82-78 brought out the Tag Team, and he was thereby absolved of all sins committed previous to that point in the game.
-The “finding ways to win” cliche applies rather readily to this contest. A now-veteran team ratcheted up the defense in the fourth quarter and made the already three-happy Cavs start chucking in frustration, with rebounding monstrosity Sideshow Bob even trying one for fun. Put another notch in the Griz’ collective belt as far as turning opposing teams into frustrated piles of shot-jacking muck (Knicks, Heat, Lakers, etc…). The Grizzlies’ offense was not horrid shooting-wise, but only 16 ast on 33 made FG’s again tells us that the movement and spacing was not good.
-Anderson Varejao is my kinda player. He’s not skilled too much offensively, but he’s every bit as good a rebounder as is ZBo. He does it differently, though-he runs around like a chicken without a head chasing the ball and gets all up in the middle of every missed shot by either team. Only thing is…he’s not the young player he once was. Will his style of play last into his 30′s? I hope so, and it will be interesting to see whether it can.
-Once again, the starters were all a positive plus-minus, and all the bench players were a negative. Sure, Pondexter had a huge fourth quarter, and Arthur is still working into shape, and Selby needs more D-League seasoning…but the season is young yet, and this team cannot go into another April with Conley and Gasol running on fumes. Speights, I believe, is becoming discouraged with himself and is hearing the footsteps of DA fast approaching. He’ll need to rectify his current slump if he hopes to maintain any PT once Arthur gets closer to full strength. Only five game minutes for him tonight, and that’s a trend I could see continuing if he doesn’t start showing more effort on D and on the glass. Ellington is in a dry spell, and this game was not one to encourage fans that he may be due for another Miami-game outburst any time soon. Conley, we hope, will be well enough to play on Wednesday, and he’ll be well in a few days in any case-but seeing Selby/Ellington/Gay function as “point players” was unsettling to say the least, although the extended play-initiating leash that Gay’s been given this year was serendipitously helpful this night (yes, I just modified that word for my needs). Will Tony Wroten be a viable 3rd string PG this season? Will he not? Time will tell.
No game is without its warts, but this one looked like it fell into a vat of toads.
Got a feeling that the Grizzlies might wind up bearing the marks of Lionel Hollins’ shoe soles in some tough spots over the next day or two…