Ok, be honest, who really thought the Grizzlies had the proverbial snowball’s chance at winning this game? Don’t see too many hands out there.
That’s ‘cuz you’ve all seen at least one or two basketball games. Playing against robots is like playing against the Spurs, which is what the Grizzlies had to do this game.
Seven things, here we go…Thing one: An earmark of a poor stretch of Grizzlies basketball has, over the years, included at least one nuclear scoring assault by a player not particularly known for such. Kawhi Leonard, come on down! You’re tonight’s no-namer (relatively speaking) Grizzlies assassin! He went uncovered for his first few shots, and once it was rolling, there was no stopping him. Didn’t matter who guarded him, although the three he hit to close the first half “against” James Johnson (who was, at the time of the shot, an inexplicably long way from Leonard) stung perhaps a bit more than any other of his shots. 12-13 overall and only one foul and one TO in thirty minutes of game time. A sign of lackadaisical defense for sure. Perhaps most disgusting was that he shot zero FT’s-if the guy is killing your team, heck, give him a slap on the forearm once or twice-at least make him earn a couple at the line.
Thing two: Speaking of lackadaisical defense, the Grizzlies allowed the Wolves to shoot 53% in the loss at MIN and allowed the Spurs to shoot 56% this night. In the immortal words of Mr. Hand…”AM I HALLUCINATING HERE?” Sadly, no one is seeing things. Except, of course, an alarmingly high number of Grizzlies opponents. “Open basket” would be the thing they’re seeing. In the Wolves loss, it seemed that the Grizzlies’ inability to switch properly on screens was the principal element, whereas in the Spurs game, it was just flat-out lack of “closeness”. As in, lazy reaches to prevent passes and/or shots. Half-baked hand-oriented defense doesn’t work against the worst of NBA teams, and certainly not against the Spurs. Speaking of not closing out and guys who kill the Grizzlies…
Thing three: …Manu Ginobli. Was he the Spur most responsible for the way this game went? The argument is there. 8-11, 4-6 from distance, and 6-6 from the line. As much as Leonard was given space on the perimeter to size up shots, the Grizzlies defense was so afraid of Ginobli getting by them that he was given a full yard of frontal space to allow him to measure a shot.
Thing four: The Grizzlies perimeter guys (Allen and Conley in particular) looked completely lost as the Spurs did that three-quarter-fronting thing to the post guys. When the other three players waited three to five seconds to start moving after everyone noticed that the post entry pass was nullified, the offense became bogged down in the worst kind of mud.
Thing five: The Grizzlies were down 26-10 after the first quarter, and that was the Spurs’ lowest-scoring quarter of the game. That’s bad. Shot charts? Don’t look, unless you want to find out just how unbalanced the Grizzlies’ offensive “attack” really was, and how laser-precise the Spurs’ was. The Spurs, even after losing Parker to back spasms, hit plenty in the lane, and, until Austin Daye missed three attempts, were 9-19 from three. Unfortunately, this level of “defense” is becoming all-too-familiar for Grizzlies fans.
Thing six: Can’t blame Conley….too much. He unabashedly took matters into his own hands, going 8-13 for the game with six assists to only one turnover. He had no luck with Parker in the first, but after Parker went out, he was the lone starter who looked like his game made the flight to Texas.
Thing seven: We needn’t fool ourselves too much regarding the bench “spurt” in the end of the third-yes, they got closer, but they never got close enough to matter. All it took was Pop getting a well-earned tech to stop whatever run the Grizzlies had attempted to fabricate…the Spurs found another level of motivation and wiped out the Grizzlies for the rest of the game.
Random rants: James Johnson or a healthy Quincy Pondexter? Think before answering, as that could be the choice for next season. For all Johnson’s contributions this night, his wackiness on defense still showed itself (he’s like an awesome puppy that wants to chase down everyone at once-except that doesn’t work).
Did the Grizzlies miss Tayshaun’s length and discipline (something sorely lacking in TA’s defense this season) this game? Would it have mattered?
Will the Grizzlies make the playoffs?