Let’s all take a breath now. Ok, now that we’re all breathing…TWO fouls on 3pt shooters when the Griz had a double-digit lead only moments earlier?? Really? Plays like that spell the following words:
So what’s the problem here?Well, it’s plain as the proverbial nose on the proverbial visage-Conley and Gasol are the engine that makes this team go, and both of them are fighting nagging injuries. Yes, OJ pulled the team through a tough spot for the win in Milwaukee with a stellar 10-10 from the line,Gay had a huge second half in MIL, ZBo is coming into game rhythm, and Arenas has shown signs of life-but make no mistake, the Grizzlies’ starting 1-5 combo is the basis for the team’s offense.
Over the two games:
Backcourt-Dragic had his way with whatever Grizzly made an attempt to stop him. Should Conley have taken off this game? Perhaps, as playing Arenas against Boykins would not have worked for Houston, and the resultant lineup shuffle might have paid off for the Grizzlies. Courtney Lee is fast on his way to earning a spot on the Grizkiller team-and to think, we almost had him when he was drafted, in return for Javarence Kinseyton. It’s hard to fault Tony Allen for trying too hard-but that’s sorta what’s happening. He took fifteen shots in the Houston game to make up for the offense that wasn’t coming from Conley, and it didn’t go well. Conley was obviously hampered-when’s the last time Conley played a game and had ZERO assists? Rhetorical, I have no idea-but there have been VERY few of those occasions. Same story, different names in the MIL game, but at least only one of the two backcourt starters went off-and surprisingly, it was not Monta, who had a big fat 2-12 outing. Best backcourt item from these two games? OJ’s scoring,maybe…but it was quite nice to see Arenas show a bit of life on offense. When this guy gets it going, it’s akin to what JR Smith can do and what someone like Rip Hamilton could once do-score, score, score. Not a bad guy to have when he gets into full game shape. After the MIL game, it would not surprise me to see Gilbert get more time and Pargo to get back to counting the splinters in his shorts, assuming that Conley is able to return at full strength soon (although Russell Westbrook is not exactly an ideal matchup to face coming back from an ankle injury).
Frontcourt-Rudy Gay, ceiling. There, I said it. As for the rest…Marc Gasol is one of the toughest guys to ever wear a Grizz uniform, and now, unfortunately, we get to find out about Dante Cunningham’s ability to play through pain. The team surely missed him against Milwaukee, as his energy on D would have been useful against Ilyasova (speaking of really tough dudes). Remains to be seen how long a NASTY ankle sprain suffered at the end of a +14 half against Houston will keep him on the bench. Gasol played his utmost, as he always does-but on D, his ankle is limiting his ability to cover space and help on penetration without overcommitting. He had a great game on the boards against Milwaukee, as he was the tallest man in the state of Wisconsin that night-we must hope that the therapy he’ll get on Sunday will help him be ready for perkisachump on Monday. Same with Randolph-he had a very efficient 6-9 with 7 rebs 2ast against Milwaukee, but against Houston, where matchups were less favorable, it was easier to see that he’s still a bit away from full game fitness-3-7 in more minutes than he played against MIL.
Overall, it was great to see the Griz go +19 on the glass against the Bucks (no excuse not to completely demolish them on the boards) and even go plus-side against Houston in rebounding.
It was not so great to see the team go 1-15 from 3 against Houston-what the *&^%$^% were they thinking? They weren’t, maybe. Who knows. Just terrible.
It was great to see OJ take leadership of the team in Q4 of the win.
It was not so great to see Pargo be rather unimpressive once again in only 15 or so minutes, even with no Conley and no minutes given to a freshly-re-arrived Selby.
The 3-in-3 is next. Will this series of games determine whether the Grizzlies make the playoffs? They’d darn sure better play like it does…since it just might.