In the wake of the trade deadline, it’s time for the Grizzlies’ now to gear up, put all the chatter aside and advance forward on the playoff push. In this edition of the Friday Morning Five, the 3 Shades of Blue team takes at the road ahead.
1. Are you okay with Grizzlies management standing pat at the deadline?
Chip Crain: I think this was the right decision. The team’s starting five from last year’s western conference finals has only played 12 games together this season. The chemistry has been steadily improving and the team is on the cusp of the playoffs despite all the injuries. The return of Allen is all the change the team needs right now.
Anthony Sain: Personally I wanted to add another “3&D” guy and possibly move off if Tayshaun’s contract but I’m totally fine with us keeping the team together as it is right now. I think that with the chemistry increasing that when we get healthy that we will be in great shape.
Carl Chaplin: I’m content with the Grizzlies line-up currently. The addition of C. Lee and J. Johnson earlier have made the Grizzlies competitive. That along with the maturation of Nick Calathes have shown that the Grizzlies have a deep bench. The reserves often come in with a lot of energy and can score and defend. So, the Grizzlies didn’t need to trade.
Zach Thomas: I’m ok with it. I preferred no trade. I knew that it may happen but back in late January I wrote how no move needed to be made and felt that the best thing for this roster was time to gel and get healthy. I feel that can now be accomplished. I realize other contending teams got better too, but I believe this team can make it to the WCF again.
Steve Danziger: Going into this whole “trade frenzy” season, I wanted to see something go down to add a bit more athleticism to the roster. But to be honest, after seeing the type of proposals that were floated out there in the past few weeks, I changed my mind on that one real quick. My biggest fear was that the team would give up an asset to push Tayshaun’s contract off the books, so I’m glad that didn’t happen.
2. What is this team’s ceiling without Marc at 100%?
Chip: 50 wins. Even at less than 100%, Gasol’s presence on defense makes the Grizzlies a tough team. With the addition on Courtney Lee, Mike Miller, James Johnson, Nick Calathes, Ed Davis, etc. Gasol isn’t counted on for as much offense as he was last season after the Rudy Gay trade. Gasol can rest more on offense with the plethora of shooters compared to the past and focus on calling the defenses and keeping the team together. As he keeps improving his conditioning and timing the offense will become more consistent as well.
Anthony: I think we have the same ceiling regardless. This team as constructed is a playoff team that can make noise. There were lineups when Marc was out that in my opinion were good defensively and also were very efficient offensively. Marc just simply being on the court helps by being a presence on defense and distributing to our new weapons on the perimeter.
Carl: Playoffs, maybe win the first series (doubtful) but that’s it.
Zach: Western Conference Finals are attainable with Gasol being 85-90%. His offense doesn’t HAVE to be pristine for the Grizzlies to win games. However, if he if he will not 100% as Dave Joerger stated, other players around him need to remain healthy and produce at the levels they have been doing. As I alluded to above, as this roster plays more games together and everyone feels out their roles, they will gel and click.
Steve: I’m going to give the same assessment that I did before the season: a hard-fought road to a second round exit. This team has been very good basically since the integration of James Johnson and Courtney Lee. Marc may not ever reach 100%, but barring setbacks, he’s going to be better in April than he is right now.
3. Why do the Grizzlies struggle to hold onto leads? Does it matter?
Chip: Because they are not the type of team that can run teams out of a game. Defensive teams struggle when they relax just a bit and getting large early leads almost always means teams let up. I don’t believe this is a serious problem however. The real problem is the starting five’s propensity to not get a fast start at the start of the game or the 2nd half either. Until the starters impose their will on games from the start the Grizzlies won’t be too concerned about blowing leads as much as digging themselves out of the hole they put themselves in.
Anthony: I think it’s because we are still learning each other as a team and learning Joerger as a coach. Plus I think that the pressure to make the playoffs makes us play tight when we get a lead.
Carl: If I had an irrefutable answer to that they would make me a coach. It seems that there could a few reasons. 1. The Grizzlies don’t get large leads (when was the last game the Grizzlies had a +20 point lead? Someone check that out.) and since the NBA is a game of runs, the other team is going to come back. 2. Our bench has been playing for starters and has not had a chance to play together as a unit. Once they do, they may be able to hold a lead. 3. We don’t have a high potent offensive team, so they just won’t get huge leads, even with their stingy defense.
Zach: It’s part of the game. I don’t think much about it. Most of the recent Grizzlies leads lost have been caused by teams missing open shots in one half, then making open shots in the second half. It happens. Just win.
Steve: I equate this tendency to let leads wash away to the way in which these leads are generated. Typically, when the Grizzlies get out to a big lead it’s the product of playing stifling defense and holding the opposition to abnormally low shooting percentages, specifically beyond the arc. The problem is that doing so is unsustainable, as it’s tough to expect an opponent to shoot so poorly for 48 minutes. When the percentages correct themselves, the margin shrinks. However, the Grizzlies’ ability to string together multiple stops helps them out tremendously at the end of games, which thankfully more often than not has rendered this discussion moot.
4. Tony Allen expects to return tonight, and according to Ron Tillery he wouldn’t mind coming off the bench. Will/should he be starting down the line?
Chip: Tony Allen is aging and that has to be considered when discussing the starting five players. I have always said it doesn’t matter who starts and I still feel that way. If TA is coming off the bench or starting doesn’t matter as long as the team chemistry is solid. TA has always been a substitutional type of player who you put on the court for defense and try to get off the court on offense. With Lee and Miller that shouldn’t change. TA can be a finisher on the team when defense is more important and Lee can finish when it isn’t as important. The most important thing is to make sure Lee has enough minutes to feel in the flow of the offense but not so many minutes he is tired when taking his shots. TA in the lineup will make that more realistic.
Anthony: I think that Courtney Lee should be our starter going forth and tony should be used to check scorers as the flow of the game dictates. Lee is a true shooting guard and provides too many elements not to start.
Carl: He should only start in games where the Grizzlies need a strong defensive guy to slow down a SG or a SF when it looks that C. Lee would have trouble or T. Prince is hurting. Otherwise, let him come off the bench as spark and defensive presence.
Zach: Yea he will be, eventually. Depending on matchups, once TA becomes full strength and confident enough to be aggressive again, I am confident he will find a starting spot. It’s the great thing about our roster full of veterans and talented players, on any given night, we can matchup with the best.
Steve: I’m expecting the starting unit to stay the same, but for Tony to eat into Tayshaun and (I’m sorry) Johnson’s minutes to make up about 20 a night. The only thing I would be opposed to at the moment would be for Courtney’s minutes to be cut to anywhere below 28 per game, as I think he’s the best two-way wing we’ve got going right now. Other than that, I’d be fine with Dave experimenting with the wing rotation however he sees fit. I’m definitely excited to get the Grindfather out there, especially with Gasol back in the fray. His ability to freelance knowing that Big Spain has his back will make his defense look 3x better than it did earlier in the season.
5. “Floppers” at the Forum tonight. Call the free throw differential.
Chip: Well Conley and Paul are similar types of players and Conley has been to the line 123 times in 44 games. Chris Paul has been to the line 206 times in 37 games. Zach Randolph and Blake Griffin are both All-Star Power Forwards with the emphasis on power. Griffin has been to the line 478 times in 56 games. Randolph has shot 235 free throws in 51 games. I think the 2-1 ratio will be maintained in this game. Anything greater than 2-1 will certainly raise eyebrows in Memphis but the Grizzlies have been getting fewer calls ever since the Houston game when Zach had his outburst. I expect the same to happen tonight.
Anthony: I think this is all on the fans. If it’s a hornets nest in there tonight we will get calls. Refs are swayed by the home crowd without a doubt. I say Grizz 30- clips 23.
Carl: In the first two games it’s been Clippers to Grizzlies: 32-30 and 18-26. For the season the score of Clippers vs. Opponents is 1665-1408 For this game I’ll pick Clip-Griz: 23-29.
Zach: I’ll go with Grizzlies WINNING the FT battle. I feel pretty confident about the game & us being aggressive going to the hoop. Grizz +2.
Steve: If pressed, I think that the Clips will take the free throw cake, but not by all that much. Something to the tune of 3-5 free throws in their favor. If the Grizzlies roll with “hack-a-DeAndre,” however, all bets are off.
Have any questions for the 3 Shades of Blue staff to chew on? Feel free to send them our way via the comment section, e-mail, calling into 3SOB Radio on Sports56 every Saturday morning, sending smoke signals, or reaching out on Twitter with the hashtag #FridayMorningFive!