Well, that stung like sitting down on an angry hornet.
As you read here last night, Admiral Ackbar’s most famous statement applied in full to this game, and lo and behold it trapped the Grizzlies.
How it became a trap from the opening tip is the first of the seven not-so-lucky things about this game…
Thing one: And, ladies and gentlemen, YET ANOTHER slow start. Only eighteen points in the first (en route to only notching one quarter over 20), and defense porous enough to allow Kyrie Irving 14 in the first twelve minutes. Can’t lay it all on Calathes, either. The other four guys have to know that Irving’s usage rate is going to be somewhere north of 457% and be ready for that.
Thing two: No, Gasol is not fully healed. Not close. However, there’s just no way to lay any of this at his two feet either. It’s a team thing, he’ll be the first to say…but he’ll also be the first to throw himself under the bus. 8 and 9 with 5 ast, 3 steals, and four blocks? Yeah, that guy stunk up the joint and lost the game. No way. He was there for a lot of important boards, but it’s obvious that his mobility is limited.
Thing three: Strange against a team like the Cavs who reside near the bottom of the east-but this game would have been more of a welcome return for TA and/or Conley than just about any other (ok, maybe the Mavs game to put one of those guys on Monta. I’ll give you that one). Putting Conley’s megaquick hands on Irving and TA’s pattycake Bowen-style physicality on Waiters/Miles/take your pick would surely have helped. Again, Calathes can’t be expected to keep up with Irving, and Conley’s straight-line speed and quick hands would have helped. Not that Calathes did horribly by any stretch-17 points on nine FGA’s with six assists (don’t look at the turnover column, please) is a good contribution.
Thing four: Three point shooting. Sure, Irving’s outburst in the first quarter was damaging-but old-time Grizzkiller CJ Miles surely got into the act too, going 3-7 for the game and hurting the Grizzlies with every make. Subtract Waiters’ 1-5 and the Cavs shot 60% from three. Even on only 20 attempted threes, 50% from the opponent comprises a high hurdle on its own. Inexplicable too, since the Cavs have only minor post killers. Tristan Thompson is a competent NBA player, and Varejao had another great game against the Grizzlies-but penetration was the problem.
Thing five: It’d be easy to look at some numbers and think this was a defensive disaster for the Grizzlies, but that wasn’t the case. They gave up only 91 points to a team who’s actually been warming up of late. “The opponent scored 91 points and shot under forty percent” is a recipe for a win, right? HAHAHAHA no. The Grizzlies shot an even worse percentage, and missed more shots in the paint than they made in a snare-drum-tight fourth quarter. Mike Miller went scoreless in four tries in twenty minutes of game time, and the normally-dependable Courtney Lee went a miserable 4-15.
Thing six: Back-to-back with under 24 hours between tipoffs. Sure, that’s an excuse, but for a team that’s still weathering medium-term injuries to two very important starters, it’s a big deal.
Thing seven: The razor’s edge grows ever thinner for the Grizzlies regarding the playoffs. Wouldn’t be the first time that the Grizzlies would have caught fire (and not in a tire fire way) after the AS break, but it needs to happen if the Grizzlies don’t wanna be playing golf in the Caribbean somewhere come the first of May.