Oh, OKC is the best team in the NBA, Boston has finally kicked aside their collective tennis-ball-footed walker, blahblah.
The dark clouds are brewing.
There are signs. -No offensive cornerstone (ZBo), and, for today at least, no defensive cornerstone, and it’s woefully, plainly evident that the Grizz are becoming more lost with each game as far as offensive options. I’d hate to be Conley right now-bring the ball up, look around, who do you see? Rudy Gay, who has done decently making his attempts to “take over” games (see: Q3 in Boston-three straight makes to momentarily defibrillate the Griz) , but who is still in his own head about going to the hoop in heavy and/or talented traffic. Makes one wonder about the shoulder, and makes one wonder about the alpha-dog-ness (or lack thereof). Conley might also see a slowly wilting but still spirited Marc Gasol (who I’d imagine is getting tired of trying to play Atlas at this point), or he might see the second coming of Ben Gordon (that’d be #32) with his finger already on the trigger (not necessarily a bad thing). The further things go into a shot clock, the easier it gets for the opposition. Dump to gasol, Rudy ISO, Conley three. Chicken and egg regarding other players not producing late in possessions? Coach not wanting to try untested options? Who knows, but it’s gotta change.
-More about the defense. The Grizzlies, miraculously, are mid-pack in the NBA as far as rebound differential, but one wouldn’t know it. Second in steal differential and TO differential (both to the Sixers, curiously)….but it’s painfully obvious that if the ball gets by TA and Conley and Rudy, there’s trouble. The Grizz miss Randolph and Gasol’s familiarity, but on D is where the Griz really miss ol’ double-zero. Arthur’s ability to help and recover on successive screens is something that Cunningham and Speights cannot duplicate. Yes, Cunningham is playing with every ounce of energy he has-but he doesn’t have the bulk Arthur possesses and he still doesn’t have the time built up playing with the Griz to have things as automatic in his head within the Griz’ system. Can’t fault the guy, he’s rebounding VERY well, hitting a shot when it fits for him to take it, and listening well-but….it’s just not DA. Now in the OKC game, it’s hard to blame anyone-they were victimized by the best offensive player in the NBA having a 16-point outburst in Q4. However, this must go back to Rudy-it’s no one’s job but his to respond when the opposing team’s best scorer starts going out of his mind like that.
Oh, this is all so silly. It’s the depth, folks. The Grizzlies are about as deep as a teaspoon. Questions raised by the recent only-slightly-interrupted down streak:
-Was Hollins’ nearly-vindictive desire to get rid of Vasquez hubris on his part? Yes, we all know that GV left James Harden at the WRONG time in that playoff game (not that there’s ever a right time to leave the guy)-but with Selby and Pargo combining for a stellar 0-6 with a 1/1 ast/TO ratio in the Boston game (and we all know the story of those two thus far this season), would it have been worth it to still have him?
-Are the Spurs going to beat down the Griz again, leading to further chinks in the chemistry armor?
-Will the offers for OJ get better, and will the Griz listen? Also, WHY DID THEY NOT TAKE RUSH AND MCBOBS???
-Will Rudy explode for a 30+ game like the team SO DESPERATELY need him to do?
-Will the Conley and Gasol pick and roll, usually a realiable combo, return to its former greatness? (this one’s sort of a trick question. With only one or two halfway-steady 3pt threats, one of which usually isn’t in position to receive a kickout on a G/C p-n-r, it likely won’t until there’s big 50 on the other side of the lane).
Stay tuned, Griz fans, for another episode of “Please Lord Don’t Let Tony Allen be injured too severely”.