The Grizzlies were fortunate and good on Monday night. Coming into the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Twolves had been deflated by a crushing home loss to Phoenix after being up 22 points, all but crushing their “outside shot at the playoff” hopes. They were missing Nikola Pecovic and Ronny Turiaf in the paint, and no JJ Barea either for tonight’s game. All told, they looked like they would rather be on the golf course or in Cancun than playing basketball. That just so happens to make it the second home game in a row for the Grizzlies where they caught a team sleepwalking into FedexForum. The Grizzlies took an early 10-4 lead and exploded it to 30-15 at the end of the first quarter. The TWolves would never get closer than 10 the remainder of the game and the Grizzlies would lead by as much as 25, before settling the final score, 109-92.
Here’s a look into the Post Game Stats:
10- Game home winning streak, matching the 3rd best regular season mark in franchise history
101.7- PPG average in those 10 home games
10.3- Average margin of victory in last 10 home games
18- NetRtg vs TWolves
12- Grizzlies played and all but Courtney Lee scored (more on him below), and no one played 30minutes
6- Memphis players in double figure scoring, every starter but Courtney Lee
4- Timberwolves players in double figure scoring, every starter but Ricky Rubio
15- First quarter Timberwolves points, TWolves entered the game leading the NBA in 1st qtr scoring (29points)
30- First quarter Grizzlies points, Grizz entered game last in NBA in 1st quarter scoring (22.7points)
-32- Kevin Love’s worst +/- performance in a game this season
27- Mike Conley’s second best +/- performance in a game this season
1- Zach Randolph made three-pointer on the season (1-17)
24- more paint points by the Grizzlies than TWolves, 66-42.
Post Game Takeaways:
#1: This is the second consecutive game where the Grizzlies have given a complete effort and looked head and shoulders better than their opponent. Could be because both teams were coming in on the second night of a back to back, after playing tough games the night before, however, Memphis didn’t allow that to change the way they play. They were the aggressor from the get go and dictated the pace.
#2: Mike Conley has now put together two consecutive great games. Pacers against Geroge Hill on Saturday and Monday night against Ricky Rubio. In the 3 games against Memphis, Rubio has been held to 8ppg (25% FG) and 5 apg. Mike Conley being back with ZBO & Marc playing elite level could be just what the doctor ordered as the Grizzlies finish these final 12 regular season games.
#3: Tayshaun Prince had his “one in every 5” game tonight. He has played good defense the past few games on some pretty stiff competition, but tonight against Corey Brewer he was able to get off a few shots and went 6-11 from the field with 12 points. I’m not going to act like this makes up for his goose eggs, but when Courtney Lee gives you oohing and Tony Allen is out sick, someone has to score from the wing.
#4: Courtney Lee is a mess. As our guy Anthony Sain pointed out in this article, Courtney Lee has been struggling. Not just struggling to make shots, but struggling to actually take them. He has passed them up multiple times. I’m not exactly sure what is going on in his head, but if he can’t prove to teams that he is capable and willing to make them pay for leaving him open, then that whole spacing issue we thought we solved, will come back again. I have confidence he will solve that problem, and it had no effect on the outcome of Monday’s game, but he needs to start working that out. Joerger took part of the blame for Courtney not getting up enough shots, but the ones he did get, he passed on (only 3 ast) so it’s not like he was passing it up for others, per se.
#5: Ed Davis played incredibly well tonight. He scored 12 points (6-8FG), had a few dunks and grabbed 7 boards. His athleticism next to ZBO as the 5, or Koufos as the 4, really wreak havoc on other teams. Davis continues to show that when matched up with the right teammates and given the opportunity, he still can perform at a high level. But it’s up to the coaches to know where to use Ed’s strengths to exploit opposing teams. The Grizzlies two best 4-man rotations (with 35+min played) involves Ed Davis. A Conley-Davis-Johnson-Koufos lineup has a +54 NetRtg. A Miller-Johnson-ZBO-Davis has a +52.7 NetgRtg. Something to think about if/when we see Ed Davis on the court moving forward. The numbers say he isn’t good next to Gasol.
#6: James Johnson played 25 minutes. He was a team worst -9. He was 2-7 from the field, 4 points, but dished out 5 assists to 3 turnovers. At times he looked disinterested in playing defense (110.7 DRtg), but then would come down and block a shot the next trip. He is still too inconsistent to warrant big time minutes in crucial stretches of games that matter. However, I do like seeing him in places where his strengths can exploit the other teams weakness.
#7: Mike Miller is the MAN. His shooting numbers are off the charts. He is daring threes. He is a weapon that the Grizzlies have never had in the playoffs. Everytime he shoots a three I feel as if it is going in. 50% of the time it does. Whatever it takes to keep him rested and healthy for the playoffs, do it. We will need him to unfoil Popovich and the Spurs’ evil plan.
#8: The Grizzlies now enter the most crucial stretch of their season, a 5 game road trip out West. They are currently 2.5 back of the 5th seed, 1.5 back of the 6th seed, and .5 (essentially 1.5 b/c of tiebreaker) ahead of the Phoenix for 9th. Since Gasol has been back, the Grizzlies are 11-7 on the road. However, what is so impressive is that in their 11 wins, they are averaging 92.2 points per game, with a +7.9 margin of victory. That is some lock down, hand cuff you, impressive defense. They are road warriors. I am still weary of Denver and Utah road games because of the oxygen levels, being at higher altitude, but a win Wednesday could setup a Friday night showdown against the Warriors. Grizzlies win there and then beat Portland, they could be in the 5th seed by next Monday evening. Only time will tell, but these next 5 games are the most important of the season, if only because they’re the next ones in front of you. One at a time. Just keep winning.