Two games, two opponents. The first game, against a team who is about one piece away from playing for all the marbles. The second, against a team that needs to stop wringing its hands and wallowing in mediocrity.
It’s not to be discounted that the Grizzlies the nuclear-powered Nuggets under 90 points…too bad they could only muster 80 themselves, huh?
As for the Jazz game…we’ll discuss that as we look at our seven things about BOTH games…
Thing one: Yes, as ascertained by each human possessing eyes, the Nuggets were able to stop Conley’s mercurial-of-late playmaking…but it was as much scheme as it was Faried. Again on Saturday, Derrick Favors and Paul Millsap were able to curtail the Grizzlies’ ability to be effective, especially on plays where there is a move to the wing before the ballhandler goes to the basket. Ed Davis’ unfamiliarity with the ideal angle at which to slip the screen set by a Grizzlies PG was in strong evidence Friday-on several occasions, he slipped/rolled at an angle very similar to the one at which the guard was moving, making a slip pass even more difficult, and making it harder for the wings to space properly.
Thing two: Scoring. It’s still a problem from time to time, eh? The third quarter at Utah was just so…so…pitiful. Like my 4 y.o. son when he’s got a nasty sinus infection pitiful. Two field goals and five free throws, and they missed a few of those even. Oof. 6-20 from the field for the bench at Denver was not good. See also: Bad with a capital BAD. Nice shot distribution for the starters against DEN, with all five launching (notice the choice of term) between 12 and 14 attempts…but when the team goes for 35% for the game, things aren’t good. Let’s say then you stay under 40% for a second consecutive game…yikes.
Thing three: Marc Gasol was a man gassed against Utah, after 14/7/5 with 3 blk against DEN. Obviously ran the gas out of the tank, and his inability to help facilitate (along with Conley’s obivous fatigue) led to the Grizzlies’ only 14 assists on 33 FG’s. Lack of ball movement, counterintuitively, often denotes a team that is tired. Letting the ball do the work would seem a great solution for a tired team-but it doesn’t work like that. Letting the ball do the work while playing the right way involves a lot of screening, heck, “running around” at the very least, on the part of the players not holding the ball, and that was prevented in the Denver game and just flat-out didn’t happen against the Jazz.
Thing four: Fatigue in general. Can’t blame them after four-in-five in four cities and two time zones…Prince’s two consecutive misses in that third quarter at Utah were the most glaring examples. An elbow jumper that was SHORT, and a three that clanged like I dropped a metal baton on a concrete floor. Hard to say that the team has a tougher road trip on the schedule all season, and this might have been expected.
Thing five: Bayless, the enigma. Actually, he’s not an enigma. He’s going to look for scoring chances, and we like that. He’s going to fill in as a playmaker, we’re ok-ish with that. But the roaming defense he can play (y’know, like when he left Foye open during guess-which-quarter of the Utah game for that three) can make it tough to keep the sometimes-awesome Conley/Bayless tandem in during the crunchy points of a game. 3-9 with 0 ast/2 TO against DEN will not go into the Bayless hall of fame either. Then…he single-handedly almost garners the Grizzlies a win after a slackoff of a game in Utah. I’ll take him over OJ, I think, for the decreased ego factor. For this Grizzlies team, anyway.
Thing six: Mustn’t kid ourselves about the Jazz. They’re a darned good team, and desperate. A bit mindful of the game against ORL just after the deadline-that cornered animal with nothing to lose is a dangerous thing. Hayward is a good player…but is he the guy who sinks threes to defeat a playoff team? He was this night, darnit.
Thing seven: No days off, and no easy opponents. The Timberwolves are no bunch of pushovers-after all, they’ve got freakin’ General Zod playing center, and a guy WHO SHOULD STILL BE A GRIZZLY (two if you count Kevy-Kev, I suppose..but then we don’t get ZBo, then..who knows) giving them great energy.
It’s gonna stay tough.