Yes, bandwagon Heat fans, the Grizzlies were unusually hot from three. Sure, the Heat shot 61% from the line.
However, that ain’t what won the Grizzlies the game. There were a few factors that are significantly more common in Grizzlies games to which one could point as the reasons for this HUGE victory…
WAYNEELLINGTONWAYNEELINGTON. Also, Wayne Ellington was a +36 in this game. Ok, got that out of my system.
Also, BAYLESS WITH THE BLOCK ON RAYRAY AND ELLINGTON FOR THREE so well epitomized this game for the Grizzlies….but that’s just another superlative single moment, not the whole story of the game.
Ball movement was what won the Grizzlies this game, along with a heavy dose of the good ol’ GNG.
It wasn’t just Conley, either-best assist of the game (maybe aside from the Conley lob to Gay for the slam thanks to a KILLER screen on Battier by Gasol) belonged to Quincy Pondexter. He received the ball in the corner, as he often does, headed toward the hoop, froze ZBo’s defender with his penetration move, and made a beautiful wraparound to Randolph for the layup. Gasol went 1-6 from the field, but had six great assists, with four coming early in the game to help set the rhythm for the evening. Yes, it’s the NBA champs-but just like any other team without a top-notch post defender or three, the Heat were victimized by the consistent and resilient Grizzlies big men and their ability and willingness to share the ball. 68% FG’s assisted for the Griz this game. Great performances from Conley and Gasol in particular in terms of finding the open man, and it doesn’t hurt when a guy like Ellington is hotter than the surface of the sun.
To use Tony Allen’s second-most-popular phrase, the Grizzlies shut off the water against what anyone would agree is a 93-octane offense. They employed the “let Lebron and Bosh get theirs, just don’t let anyone go crazy from three or let any second-tier Heat player go nuts for 30”, and it worked. When you hold Wade, sick or not, to 3-15, rendering him pretty much invisible, you’ve done your job well.
The reason? Rudy Gay. Not on Wade in particular, but it was plain to see that Rudy took this game more personally than perhaps any game I’ve watched him play. Sure, Lebron had his points-but Rudy had four steals, and deflections to boot, and took LBJ to the ankle clinic for a thunderous dunk on one occasion.
Ok, derail for a minute. Rewatching the fourth quarter, and just saw the “good effort” sign in section 108 right behind the Heat bench. Whoever you are, you rule.
Ok, back to Rudy Gay. This game, perhaps more than any other, could serve to demonstrate that he’s sick of being known as “disappearing Rudy”. He had another rough shooting night, but his defense was constantly visible, and no visible pouting. Is Rudy finally ready? We’ll see….
As I said earlier, there were a couple of fluke-ish aspects to this game, but a bunch of fluke-ish aspects combined add up to a resounding victory. “Oh, the Griz hit threes”. “Oh, the Heat couldn’t hit FT’s”. By definition, flukes come in ones, not bunches.
Also, Zach Randolph had another double-double. In other startling, unexpected news, my four-year-old hates to go to bed on time.
No way in God’s green Earth the Grizzlies go 81-1, but tonight, they played a great game. Too bad it doesn’t get any easier…