Well, no one would call these two victories “excellent tuneups of the playoff engine”, but they were victories.
Some encouraging things, some not-so-encouraging things…
-ZBo got to sit out a whole game on the second night of a b2b, and the team won…so that’s good. Let this be the first reference to the vaunted “rest vs. rust” cliche of the still-approaching postseason-do we need to get ZBo fully aligned game-rhythm-wise before the playoffs get here, or do we make sure that his knee doesn’t start protesting when he gets the stew beaten out of him every other night for…several more weeks? Do we think he’s still not in game rhythm? Seems as though he is. Randolph was sorta the “bright-ish spot” among a bright bench in the victory in CHA-14 and 6 with 4 ast in 21 minutes. Good stuff, and with good agility to boot. It’s known, of course, that Zach’s post play will be HUGE in the playoffs, and so I’ll say that it’s smart of Hollins to give him the night off.
-Rudy Gay flipping the switch against Portland, especially that block at the end. 9-16 wasn’t exactly bad for the game, but knowing that the winning play was there to be made was a nice sign for his awareness level as he approaches his first preseason. His hunger level has been almost entirely a positive-no ballhogging, just nice within-the-flow play on both ends.
-Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter. Two guys that embrace being bench players, and it shows when they come into the game. Both are instantly all arms and footwork on defense, and Cunningham is seemingly attached to the backboard as far as rebounding. Neither tries to do too much or is demanding of the ball in the least-but neither shrinks from a shot when it’s there.
-Mike Conley continues to show poise. That is all.
-inconsistency on the part of Speights. Yes, overall, he’s been a big positive-but if those first one or two shots don’t go in or at least get him to the line, it can affect his whole night. A great dub-dub against the Blazers-his work on the glass was a major factor in the win-but he needs to put himself in position to catch the ball closer to the hoop on a constant basis to make the most of his offensive talents.
-In the POR game, Selby/Arenas/Hudson combined were an 0-for-too-dang-many. Not a good sign. Arenas is fighting a finger injury (torn ligaments are no fun, i can tell you), Hudson was obviously trying too hard in his first game back as a Grizzly, and Selby has realized he’s not in Reno anymore. One of these three guys (or Pargo) is going to have to get it together for at least ten or so minutes a game for the playoffs, or the team will be in big trouble. OJ has improved at handling the PG position, we’d all agree-but having one of these guys on decent form will be essential.
It’s about to get crazy, people. Really, really crazy.
Boy do I love rooting against the Clippers….