Oh, sweet vacation. That’s what they’ve gotta be thinking. Surely what we’d all be thinking, I’m quite sure.
The Magic are not a team with an utterly desolate future (y’know, like..a couple other teams). They have a near-stud center in Vucevic, a tremendous wing in Afflalo (and I’d bet they keep him), Oladipo, Harkless, and other good players.
Well, we know what the first of seven things will be…
Thing one: OH PLEASE LET MARC’S KNEE NOT BE TOO BAD. No news yet, and “with bated breath” is the understatement of…since, well, the origin of the universe. Ok, got that out of the way…..
Thing two: You’ll not find a fanbase rooting harder for a player to come through than Grizz Nation is for Calathes, and we’re being rewarded…and this has historical precedent. Remember cheering for Thabeet when he did anything remotely good? Yes, you did…stop lyin’. I sure did, and there were lots of us. Several strong games from Calathes, especially on the defensive end, have drawn an audible sigh of contentment and stress release from many a Grizzlies fan. Tonight’s 12/5 with six assists to only two turnovers (and four steals to boot) would not have been out of place in the row next to Conley’s name. Extremely good awareness in the perimeter lanes and another step away from timidity with the ball in his hands.
Thing three: Ed Davis. Tough night at the office. A few tough nights at the office. One has to hope that he’s not listening to (or even hearing) trade rumors that might surround his name (which will likely fizzle to nothing now that Gasol *might* be hurt). Teams have started to pay him much more attention in the lane, and guys like Vucevic and Kyle O’Quinn (whose low MPG this season is a surprising stat to me-why not play the guy to see better if he’s part of the future?) are definitely players who can return to sender. It’s going to be necessary for him to put a bit of arc on that elbow jumper to keep ‘em honest. And not getting it blocked would help too.
Thing four: Koufos played well in Marc’s stead, with only two fouls in twenty game minutes, and generally good paint defense. He’ll be ready after the break to take up time for Marc if needed, and his positioning on the glass and in the paint on both ends was good.
Thing five: James Johnson had three more blocks. It’s looking more and more like the Grizz front office should probably build an anti-riot escape vehicle if they don’t re-sign this guy. He’s a Grindfather-style trick or treat, but he’s always contributing. It’d be quite nice to have him develop a back-to-basket post game…he’s surely got one of the best from whom to learn. Y’know, number 50 who had another 20-point game.
Thing six: Only ten total turnovers. That’s good. Not that Orlando is a top-tier defensive team (not terrible though, they’re mid-pack, per basketball-reference.com), but the Grizzlies have had a game or two lately where they’ve been careless with the ball. Miller had a harebrained pass, Calathes had two…but no deadly ones late.
Thing seven: Only 86 points. That’s bad. It was just slow pace-the Grizz shot almost 47%-but the whole “mud” thing won’t fly when the playoffs get here. Sure, the game slows down then-but not mid-80’s low.
We’re not gonna talk about the clear path foul, although he was ahead of all defenders and the play did start in the backcourt…