That second quarter was like a bad-trip-flashback. The third quarter didn’t exactly make it stop.
Well, good or bad, let’s look at seven things that mattered this game:Thing one: It’s not Timmy. It’s not Tony. Those guys are just the best-coached team in my NBA memory. That’s pretty much it. Ok enough of that.
Thing two: There was a play with about 3:00 left in Q2 that involved some sort of weird three-man-merry-go-round in the corner involving, I believe, Gasol/Allen/Prince…that looked more yakety-sax than anything I’ve seen the Grizzlies run. Ever. Likely a mix of the Spurs ratcheting it up and the Grizzlies, seeing that things went ok in the first, trying to integrate some more of the “new” stuff-but whatever the intent, the result was a cringe job.
Thing three: Mike Miller is trying as hard as he can. He’s not done, and I’d go so far as to say that his “I feel as good as I have in years” seems about right, based on camp/preseason/a pretty heavy-minute first game against a team that will make you feel it at the end of the night. However, his lateral mobility still isn’t wonderful, and his straight-line speed isn’t either. Smart player, still gets his nose in that paint for an occasional board, and will never be an offensive liability. I’ll take it. COUNTERPOINT: Ginobli also looked quite good.
Thing four: Free throws, darnit. Terrible. There’s just no excuse. It’s been a problem and is still a problem. 8-15 is just not good enough, and Koufos’ FT shooting is potentially a murderous achilles heel, especially given his relentless work on the boards. But the other 8-15…
Thing five: …was from three. Please disregard the fact that the Grizzlies shot as well from 3 as from the line, and disregard the fact that two of the three pointers were in compressed garbage time. Had it been 6-13, I’d still be pleased as punch. Ok, the TA thing was an anomaly. Maybe it wasn’t that great…but even anomalies count. It’d be pointless to say “hey, maybe TA just worked diligently on that shot this summer, and he’ll be a viable threat through the season” at this point, but we can hope. For him to be a more reliable target for the pass out of the post or from the elbow would be just super tasty.
Thing six: Ok, speaking of threes. Giving up 11-20 from distance against a team like the Spurs (or any team, for that matter) is a freshly paved path to destruction. The Grizzlies gave up threes in every way imaginable-misdirection from high p-n-r, in transition (the Grizzlies’ transition D was almost wholly terrible, actually), and flat-out laziness bred by fear of being beat on the perimeter. Just giving an offensive player enough space one-on-one to get off a clean shot.
Thing seven: Sure, there are a ton more things we could discuss about this game, and I’ve made some mental notes about some stuff to watch as the season goes on. Top of my list, though, is what I’m going to call the “Javale McGee question”. It surely didn’t happen this night, but will Joerger play Ed Davis more than he deserves to play due to pressure from above? Doubtful, but will bear watching. His positioning was basically good on both ends, but fighting plays through to the end was a problem. He’s just got to be a better finisher and a better 24-second defensive player if he expects to leave footprints on the court and not buttprints on the bench. Motor up, Ed. We see that you have the ability, we need to see more of the will.
Notice that I’ve avoided, pointedly, the “oh but if only that second quarter….”. That drought would have happened at some point.
One game. Won’t go so far as to say “so what”, but to actually expect to win in SA on opening night is a bit pipe-dreamy.
Time to light up the Grindhouse. And we’re off….