6-0! But this one doesn’t taste so good…
Let’s count to 6! Then let’s get outta OKC!
- A win is a win. Ibaka’s buzzer beater at the end went a little long, which helped the good guys to set a 6-0 record that this franchise had never seen and to remain 1 of 3 teams undefeated league-wide. By taking a win in OKC for the first time in 2 years, Grizzlies expanded their longest regular season winning streak to 11 games counting last season (longest single season streak stands at 8) and won their first 4 road games for the first time ever. Whether you’d admit it or not, Grizzlies are in their prime year and every night could be a meaningful chapter in the history of this franchise.
- This one doesn’t taste like your typical winning night. In fact, it might not even deserve the W on scoreboard. There’s a good chance that my next sentence is the dumbest thing anyone could ever say on the topic of professional sports, but our dear dear Grizzlies might be better off with a loss tonight. One reason for this is that a loss can make the alarming problems that this team posses hit their head in a more alerting fashion. Surely you can make a counter-argument that a loss to a depleted Thunder team can only lead to more frustration to our players and, as a well-organized veteran team, they are supposed to realize their issues at hand even with a win in the book. I’m certain that Joerger and co. will adjust the bad and keep up the good but the weaknesses they demonstrated, offensive game plan and execution especially, still present as elements of concern.
- I don’t know where to begin when it comes to talking about Grizzlies’ offensive woes tonight. There’s no doubt that this Thunder team, albeit injury-riddled, still resembles a tough blue-collar big man rotation with Adams, Ibaka, Perkins and Collison. Their bigs have been known for bothering Zach & Marc, who are the center of our offense. Still, our offense should perform better in a variety of ways. Marc, who has been praised for being aggressive offensively this season, seemed to regress to the old passive and over-passing form when facing Thunder’s zone defense. Again, under the influence of that zone defense, Grizzlies shot too many jumpers instead of forcing their ways inside, which is the attitude that Zach & Marc should adopt to respond to Thunder bigs and their physical play. Instead, our best two bigs failed to convert many of their jumpers and showed frustration and committed unnecessary fouls in the clutch. Signs of frustration were distinctive not only from the play of our star bigs, but also from the poor execution of our starting unit and bench unit, respectively. Starters moved the ball well in the first half but looked fry at end of the game. With our bigs unable to dominate the paint, starters couldn’t find a rhythm to move the ball to the right spot in the clutch. That resulted in bad shots like Tony Allen’s 3. Meanwhile, our bench might be the source of this problem as their inability to keep consistent offensive flow forced Joerger’s hand and compelled him to ride starters too long. When starters had to return to a once double-digit-lead game in midst of 4th quarter after playing almost entire 3rd quarter, they looked tired. Of course, Joerger shouldn’t be spared of blame as well for his poor distribution of playing time in this game.
- Passive Marc, it’s not a pleasure to see you, sincerely! Yes, 11 shot attempts were only 3 and half shots shy of his season average prior to the game. But first, he used 40 long minutes to put up that number; second, it’s not the number of shots he took, rather it’s his approach and attitude to the game. Against the same bigs that helped to stop Grizzlies from advancing in last year’s playoff, Marc Gasol was not ready to put on the manner to battle entering this rematch. Instead, he passively adjusted to Adams and Perkins’ aggression and failed to respond with the new brand Marc’s powerful play. After missing mid-range shots and getting traveling calls consecutively in first half, Marc had the intention to get his offense going in 3rd quarter and teammates recognized that and fed him the ball. Gasol took 4 shots and made 2 in that quarter. But as he was assigned the responsibility to lead the bench in early 4th quarter, Gasol failed to recognize that he is the best scorer in that lineup and he started overpassing. Maybe a younger Marc standing next to a prime ZBo should be praised for trying to get teammates going, but the 30-year-old Big Spain who is the best scoring hope of this team shouldn’t be praised for giving the ball to his teammates in a crucial 4th quarter. None of our bench players on the receiving end of Marc passes managed to hit shots consistently and when Marc carelessly threw the ball in the paint when he is open at elbow, Thunder defense intercepted that pass and closed the gap to 2 points with 6 minutes left in the game. In the crucial 4th quarter, Marc only scored a putback. I hope what we saw tonight was a tired and crappy Marc caught into a bad night against unexpected defensive approach, because envisioning a world where #AggressiveMarc is just a fairytale that will never come true is just a cruel thing to do.
- Um, sorry, that was a sad moment. Now let’s talk about something happy. Of all the good things that happened tonight, from Conley’s crucial shot to forcing OKC’s 5 seconds violation, the continued hot hand of Courtney Lee stands out. After tonight, CLee has converted 23 of 38 attempts this season and hit 10 of 13 3pt attempts this season. So let us enjoy the pleasantly consistent shooting rhythm of Courtney while we can. Because albeit my love to CLee, he has known for being a streaky shooter. But just think, if this hot shooting Lee isn’t a fluke and Grizz finally have a reliable shooter on the team, what would that do to our floor spacing in playoffs is surely exciting.
- Memphis, let’s take the 6 and go to bed. Let’s enjoying the best start of Grizzlies franchise history and never speak of this ugly fashioned win again. Let’s believe in the #AggressiveMarc we shall love will come to reality. Let’s wake up tomorrow to realize the Grizzlies you love can still go 82-0 this season. Because Dave Joerger and his Grizzlies will learn to adjust in this long course of a season. Because Marc Gasol will adjust to defense and try to be active and aggressive again. Because the brave Ultramen will make monsters go away.