Doing as much as they have to do.
It’s like watching a pool hustler at this point. The Grizzlies are not playing their primary guys for anything resembling primary-guy minutes, and they’ve kept winning. Not that they’ve faced the strongest of opponents much lately, but they’re still hungry NBA teams.
Was there anything to take from this game going forward from a playoff perspective?
Well, maybe, but not really, but sorta:
-ZBo in a mini-tank-esque mode this game, or so it seemed. Does this mean he’s discontented with not yet being moved back to the starting lineup? I seriously doubt it. Does this mean that he wants to fully save himself for the playoffs? I’d be more inclined to believe that, but maybe we just saw the last bit of ZBo’s injury remnants working themselves out of his knee and psyche.
-Please, Lord, do not let Pondexter be seriously injured. Besides the fact that no one wants to see a young man suffer any serious injury, the Grizzlies will NEED NEED him in the playoffs to guard an opposing team’s bench wing scorer in a lot of situations (Mo Williams, Steve Blake maybe, maybe Mike Mille…whoa,whoa, getting ahead of myself there). The addition of Lester Hudson could soften the blow slightly if QPon is hurt enough to cause him to miss playoff time, but Lester is much smaller and lacks the length and defensive intensity that Pondexter possesses.
-Marc Gasol is ready-he’s perhaps the Grizzly that most defines the “idling the motor” analogy. Yes, he’s a bit banged up-as are about 440 other NBA players at this point-but his positioning and leadership on the court are right where they need to be. His shot release on the catch-turn-shoot elbow “jumper” is getting quicker, and his mobility seems to be steadily improving.
-Rudy Gay going to the FT line a BUNCH of times in the fourth quarter of a close game. Couldn’t be more thrilled to see Rudy’s latest assertive stretch continue, and in a way that will benefit the team greatly come the postseason. Is the current version of Rudy Gay the most hungry NBA player in my memory? Well, that’s hard to say..I am 42 after all…but it’s close. He’s unafraid to launch shots, and yet he’s not forcing the attempts. He’s on fire.
-Mike Conley was his steady self, with some deadly three-point shooting thrown in for good measure. Yes, Kyrie Irving stole his lunch money for a while, but that kid’s pockets are bulging with the lunch money of many a PG who’s tried to guard him this season. Make no mistake, Conley and Gasol are the two-part epoxy that keeps the team together, and this will be in great evidence when the playoffs start. The two-pointer off the pick late in the game showed that Conley has come a long way, even since that hesitation move against Shaq a couple years ago at the FEF.
Can the Hawks handle the Clippers? If they do, then can the Knicks? At least I don’t have to root for the Celtics or the Heat to beat the Clippers…