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Well, that started well, didn’t it?

After a while, though, it wasn’t hard to tell how the end would be, huh?

There were, believe it or not, some bright spots to this game..but not many. And no, the big lead in the first quarter was not one of them.

Counting to seven:

Thing one: Sure, Jon Leuer is the New Haddadi for a lot of Grizzlies fans…and he did better than Davis or Arthur did…but he’s just not at a stage of his career where key minutes in a third quarter of a WCF game should be on the agenda. The block was against a guy almost a foot shorter than he, and his rotations elsewise were not exactly crisp. Why he was in the game leads to point two…

Thing two: Gasol and ZBo were absolutely, totally, completely fatigued by the fourth quarter. It showed in the defensive rotations in the third quarter, and that short and atrocious stretch of smallball to close the third was especially tough on Gasol. The poor shooting numbers from Randolph can be traced to the laser-precision defense of the Spurs…and also to the intense amount of physical abuse to which he was subjected on both ends leading to the aforementioned fatigue.

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Thing three: Missed. Free. Throws. Ouch. It’s becoming a refrain similar to many of the games all the way back in 05-06. Game-deciding? Maybe, maybe not. But pathetic nonetheless. No, there aren’t any players left from that season or anything…but one must wonder if there is some weird mojo about it of some sort.

Thing four: PONDEXTER! Actually, WE’LL TAKE AWAY EVERYONE BUT PONDEXTER AND SEE IF YOU CAN BEAT US. Yes, he made the most of his opportunities, and the team made every effort to utilize him properly-but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when Quincy Pondexter is your leading scorer or close to it in a WCF game, you have offensive problems. Compare what happens when Parker makes the “great loop” under the basket-Green, Diaw, Ginobli, Neal even…someone is waiting at the 3 pt line. When Conley makes his loop…well, uh, Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince, Bayless (aka “this year’s OJ”). See the difference? Yes, it’s the same issue that has plagued the Grizzlies since the 24-wins-to-40 transition from 8-9 to 9-10. Until this is sorted out, that elusive trophy will remain such.

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Thing five: Frustration with one another on defense. We mere humans struggle to imagine how insanely tough it must be to play against the Spurs, and the toughness of it began to show. The Grizzlies are usually never a team to cast a disgruntled look at a teammate, but it’s happened in this series more than once. Nothing that will make a hangover until next season, but disheartening nonetheless.

Thing six: Allowing 50% from the field while shooting a paltry 39%. File under “short prep time disaster recipes”. In sort of the same way that it’s odd to see the Grizzlies barking at each other over blown rotations, it’s odd to see the Grizzlies rushing shots and taking shots before or after their time (for you old-like-me folks, there’s a Paul Masson joke in there). The game’s final play is a good example-the Spurs’ D was so above-excellent that Conley had to take a shot that even Acrobat Conley is not likely to ever make. The Spurs have put ZBo in such a blender that anytime he thinks the ball is near his hands, it’s going up. The fadeaway that Bayless made over Duncan late in regulation was great, but a fluke.

Thing seven: It’s 3-0. Pay the piper, face the music, etc., etc., etc. For the vast majority of minutes in the series thus far, the Grizzlies have been outclassed, out-executed, and outcoached (well, Lionel doesn’t really have viable perimeter options in a number enough to deal with the “perfect fronting” of ZBo by the Spurs). Will the Grizzlies win a game? Who knows…

Before we get out of here, a word or two from Coaches Gregg Popovich and Lionel Hollins . . .

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NO, I am not ready to give up….but here are some things to ponder:

-ZBo for a real, established, deadeye shooter? Who’s a name that could drag him away from the Grizzlies without making your blood boil? Are there any? Could he even bring any value?

-Do you try to trade Arthur for a good first maybe to obtain a shooter? Are there even any deadeye shooters in the draft worth such a deal? Or do you try to trade Davis, whose value may be a tad higher, due to his lack of midrange game? Would any team want either of them after the eggs they’ve laid in this series thus far?

-Whither Bayless? Do his offensive abilities make up for his defensive deficiencies, even in such a good defensive system?

These questions burn with heat. Much heat…come on Grizzlies, make us put off having crazy fan discussions about these and a zillion other decisions for a few more days at least…

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