With the NCAA tournament taking stride and the Grizzlies taking their hot streak straight into the eye of a daunting back-to-back set this weekend, we’ve got pure basketball “madness” on the way. In this edition of the Friday Morning Five, the 3 Shades of Blue team takes on the status of Mike Conley, the Grizzlies’ three point shooting, the “madness” that lies ahead, and more.
1. Mike Conley told Chris Herrington that his ankle’s at about 75%. Should we be concerned?
Chip Crain: Not unless Mike re-aggravates the ankle. We need to remember that some of this could just be poker table talk. I’m sure Gasol and Conley aren’t 100% right now but who is? The 82 game season with numerous back to back games is hard on a body. Conley has his shot back, is still capable of getting past defenders and has the big bodies behind him to cover any defensive lapses caused by his ankle.
Zach Thomas: Conley’s play has been a cause for concern since he returned. Confirming his ankle is still bothering him doesn’t change the level of concern to me. Calathes has to be good and give it his all. Conley will have to give it all he’s got and play through the pain. If you can play, lace em up and get out there (unless you’re James Johnson).
Josh Coleman: There’s definitely reason for concern since he says it isn’t getting any better and we’re only a few weeks from the postseason. The one almost immutable constant for this squad is that they go as Conley goes, so they absolutely need him as close to 100% as possible in the playoffs.
Carl Chaplin: Yes. For the Grizzlies to make the playoffs and advance, Mike, Marc and ZBo need to be as close to 100% as possible. As Chip’s interview with Dave Berri shows, our leaders are way under-performing from last year. This in large part is probably attributed to their injuries.
Steve Danziger: Concerned, but not too rattled. He’s finding ways to be effective in spite of the injury, and as long as he, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph are healthy enough to be on the court and producing, I’m optimistic about the good guys’ chances. While we’re on the subject, I am worried about Courtney Lee, though. He hasn’t been remotely the same player since his ankle began flaring up before the All-Star break.
2. The Grizzlies are 6th in the league in 3PT% since the All-Star break (39.4%) but dead last in attempts. Should they be shooting more from the arc?
Chip: This goes along with last week’s question about James Johnson not playing much. I don’t care how many 3 point shots the Grizzlies take. I care about winning and if the Grizzlies can go 2-0 this weekend without taking a single 3 point shot what should I care? The important thing is that teams have to respect the threat of taking a 3 point shot, not that they have to actually take them. If teams fall back into pack the paint defense then the team needs to hit the open shots. If the teams defend Memphis shooters on the perimeter then the Grizzlies need to punish them inside. Take what the defense gives you and just win the game.
Zach: At this point, no. I think their hot streak of shooting 47% for a while is now cooling. They’re shooting 25% in the past 3 games now. Conley has no lift to his threes and Lee has performed worse as of late. So unless it’s Miller taking the shot, I’m not comfortable with more attempts.
Josh: They absolutely should be taking more, regardless of their percentage. Can’t make ’em if you don’t take ’em, amirite? Specifically, Conley, Miller, Calathes, Leuer, and Lee should be taking more.
Carl: Yes, but not a lot. Too many 3pt shots take away from the Grizzlies strong inside game. Also, take away Mike Miller, who is tied for 4th best in the league, and the Grizzlies only have two other good 3pt shooters, Conley and Lee. If they started jacking up too many more 3pt shoots, they could depend on it too much.
Steve: Nope. The fact that they only take them when they’re wide open plays into why they’ve been so efficient beyond the arc, of late. The right guys (and Tony Allen on occasion) are taking the right looks. With this roster, the three-ball isn’t much more than a tool to keep the paint open for the bigs. Knocking them down helps, but there’s no need to be firing away.
3. He seems to have supplanted James Johnson in the rotation for now, but will Jon Leuer be playing in the playoffs?
Chip: I don’t know. Have the Grizzlies clinched already? Who are they playing? Let’s not put the cart before the horse right now. There is still a lot of basketball left to be played. I feel a bit like Jim Mora when he coached the Colts. “Playoffs? You want to talk about playoffs? Don’t talk to me about playoffs. I just hope we win another game!
Zach: It really does depend on matchup. Against San Antonio probably so, against Thunder or Clippers, probably not. I would think Johnson would get some minutes at 4 and even Ed Davis, yes THAT guy, possibly.
Josh: It will depend largely upon the matchups, but I believe that #WHITESNAKE will definitely continue to see time on the court during the postseason due to his ability to stretch the floor and rebound.
Carl: Yes, some. But it will depend on the team we play and the match-ups. It seems the Coach Joerger has in his minds match-ups that he thinks are good for the bench players. It is for that reason that James Johnson and Ed Davis’ minutes will be limited to the situation.
Steve: Neither will be playing in the playoffs, granted the Grizzlies end up there. I’d love to see James Johnson getting some burn, but when it comes down to it, Joerger ultimately wants to run a shortened rotation. With the starters, Calathes, TA, Miller, and Koufos all but locks in the rotation that’s already nine. I don’t see Joerger deviating from that group in postseason play unless extenuating circumstances (foul trouble, injury, etc.) force his hand.
4. Brutal draw, with the Heat away and Pacers at home, back-to-back. What would it take to call this weekend a success?
Chip: 1-1 would be a measured success but I truly believe 2-0 is within the team’s reach. Of course so is 0-2. Great weekend games to get the team ready for the final push. The real determination of the weekend games is where the team stands after the weekend in the playoff race. Right now the Grizzlies are in 7th place and closing in on 6th place. Portland hosts Washington Thursday night. The Suns host Pistons and Mavs host Denver Friday night. Portland plays at Charlotte and Golden State hosts the Spurs Saturday. The Suns travel to Minnesota and Dallas hosts Brooklyn Sunday. This is a weekend the Grizzlies could make a major move up or fall behind in regards to the playoffs.
Zach: Depends on what the other teams around us are doing. Win one of those games would normally be considered a success, but in this volatile season, it really depends upon what others around us are doing. I’ll stick with a split is a success, and the loss within single digits.
Josh: A split is absolutely acceptable — and even going 0-2 isn’t reason to panic as long as the Grizz don’t crap the bed in either game.
Carl: Win 1 of the games, especially the home game against Indiana. A win in Miami would give the Grizzlies good press, but winning home games is important.
Steve: I don’t think that the Grizzlies are quite “desperate” to win the game against Miami, as ESPN claims, and I think a split this weekend is realistic/likely. However, since this team is far beyond the point of “moral victories,” I’d have a tough time calling anything other than 2-0 a “success,” per se. Miami and Indiana in a vacuum are as difficult as it gets, but neither is out of the Grizzlies’ league, and neither team is coming in all that hot. The Heat have won just 3 of their last 9 games, while the Pacers just had their 4-game winning streak snapped by the Knicks.
5. Final Four predictions. Go!
Chip: Well now that I lost my shot at a $1 billion thanks to Dayton, I suppose my Final Four will be Florida, Louisville, Oklahoma State and Cincinnati but I don’t watch college basketball very much so don’t hold me to these selections.
Zach: Ha. Well being the basketball fiend that I am, I have many brackets (like 7). However the best 4 teams right now are Florida, Arizona, Michigan State and Michigan. So I will go with those as my Final Four teams.
Josh: Florida, Louisville, Michigan St, Creighton.
Carl: Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, Arizona.
Steve: Nothing too fancy. I’ve got Florida, Virginia (sorry, Tigers), Arizona, and Louisville.
Have any questions for the 3 Shades of Blue staff to chew on? Send them our way via the comment section, calling into 3SOB Radio on Sports56 every Saturday morning, smoke signals, or reaching out to us on Twitter!