“This is gonna be a great series”, said Nostradamus.
Not one of his bolder predictions, as anyone who’s ever watched basketball pretty much coulda told ya that.
It’s time for another seven things…
Thing one: Marc Gasol. I bet this guy is selling some jerseys in Spain, and if he’s not, he darned well should be. Sure, he overtrusted his teammates on the occasion when Bayless was left to “cover” Ibaka under the goal-but overall, his pick-and-roll defense this game cemented the correctness of his DPOY designation. No, it ain’t quite Stockton to Malone-but the Conley/Gasol pick and roll is excellent, and was especially on the play with about 3 to go that fouled out Nick Collison (more on him in a moment).
Thing two: Tony. Allen. That dog was hungry like it hadn’t eaten in YEARS. Of course, the trick-or-treat factor was in heavy evidence with several misses at the rim especially early on when he was giving off enough energy to power the entire lower 48. He surely got his time defending KD this game…and he did about as well as any one human could do. Hope the left hammy isn’t dinged up too badly.
HOLY COW I JUST REWATCHED THE LATE FOURTH. I DON’T KNOW IF I’VE EVER SEEN DEFENSE PLAYED AS HARD AS TA PLAYED IT ON KD THAT FINAL STRETCH. Never seen anyone “pull the chair” on a superstar 25 feet from the hoop, eh?
Don’t know if that last dunk was necessary or well-advised, but…this is the playoffs.
Thing three: Next person that calls Mike Conley “underrated” will be the lucky ten millionth person to do so. The three tonight to make it 92-90 was yet another shot from him late in games this season to give the Grizzlies a lead, and his fourth quarter overall was nothing short of amazing. To Grizzlies fans, this Conley is nothing new. The Anti-Shrinking-Violet Conley came to play in that second half.
Thing four: Rest later-the Grizzlies’ three top offensive options all notched at least 42 minutes, and all three of them played the entire fourth quarter. Thank you to Lionel Hollins for that, although I’m sure if I were Randolph’s ankles, Conley’s shoulders, or Gasol’s knees I wouldn’t be thanking him quite so vociferously. The fact that Gasol and ZBo were both on court with him is surely part of the reason that Conley was able to get such good work done in the final frame.
Thing five: Nick Collison fouled out, and had ZERO rebounds, no points, one assist, and four TO’s in his 15 minutes of game time. The Grizzlies played great “opposite of defense” against him by making him work from awkward angles in the p-n-r and keeping him off the offensive glass. It might be easier to say “played great offense” against him, but “opposite of defense” seems more appropriate, since making his defense unimportant and ineffective is what counts against him.
Thing six: In addition to playing his top guys what might be considered excessive minutes in light of the fact that the team doesn’t play again until Saturday, Hollins made some other adjustments to the lineups, most notably making it a distinctly Dooling-deficient box score and conjuring a magical appearance of the unicorn known as Ed Davis. Should Lionel keep it more consistent or should he mix it up based on merit?
Thing seven: 2-11 in 29 minutes and only two free throws. No major impact on the game. The case could be made that if the Grizzlies just “let” (haha-as if “letting” is what one does to a player like Durant) KD do what he does, that stopping Martin from going all Kid-n-Play on the Grizzlies D is the key to the series. Sure, if you stay on him or even send a stunt toward him, guys like Fisher and Jackson are gonna get some looks you’d rather they didn’t, but do you just live with that? Time will tell.
Grindhouse time. I hope the roof of that place is reinforced…