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Game 45 Preview: Blazers at Grizzlies

A Look at the Grizzlies

The Grizzlies will walk into this game having lost 22 of 29 games.  And look at the scores of some of their wins:

vs. Utah 132-130
vs.  Philadelphia 118-102
vs.  the Lakers 128-118
vs.  Golden State 144-135
vs.  Toronto  110-104
vs.  Seattle 134-126

The moral of the story, children, is that the Grizzlies can't win a game unless they score at least 110 points.  This isn't entirely surprising as they've allowed their opponents to score more than 100 for the last twenty games straight.  There are worse teams in the league than that, but not by much, and none who have such an enormous point deficit or such a bad record.  This is neither a game plan nor a style of play, this is a disaster.

Unsurprisingly their other defensive stats are just as horrible.  They allow the opponent to shoot over 48% from the field and over 38% from the arc.  They get outrebounded by four a game and out-assisted by five.  In fact there are very few stats in which they do not get creamed.

What are the Grizzlies good at?  They're pretty good shooters overall and they have some magnificent outside shooters.  Mike Miller will toast you six ways from Sunday if you let him alone.  You know who Pau Gasol is.  He's good for 20 points a night.  Rudy Gay is a nice athlete whose production is increasing.  Damon Stoudamire, Eddie Jones, and Anthony Johnson are capable veterans.  Point guard Chucky Atkins has been on an offensive tear lately.  He scored 29 points and dished 15 assists in their last game against the Jazz.   As those scores above show the Grizzlies are capable of exploding all over you even if it happens infrequently.

Besides their abhorrent defense, Memphis' greatest problem is cohesiveness.  They're just not working as a unit.  If you apply even a modicum of pressure they're going to crumble.  Give them an excuse to lose the game and they will.  If you take them lightly and come out flat, though, you just may find yourself in deep trouble.  The Blazers couldn't score 120 in an unopposed practice game, so they need to take this game seriously if they want to pick up the win.

Things I'd like to see:

1.  You know they have to score a ton to win, so you need to pull out every trick in your book to avoid giving up easy or quick points.  These include:
    --slow the game down
    --don't turn it over
    --don't give up offensive rebounds
    --get back in transition!!!

There was a comedian once (I forget his name) who was walking down the streets of New York and saw a guy with a big ol' neck tattoo.  The comedian said, "That guy forgot not to do that!"  That's about the way it is with this game.  Just don't forget not to do really painful, obviously stupid stuff.

  1.  You are going to be able to do anything...ANYTHING you want on offense tonight.  Seriously, it's carte blanche.  So do what you do best.  That means Zach making up for his rough showing last night.  He'll have post opportunities, dribble opportunities, and open shots from the perimeter.  Go to it, big guy.  It's all-you-can-eat tonight.  Plus the guards will have many opportunities to drive deep.  Don't settle for jumpers...go for it!  When they penetrate the people on the wings will be left wide open.  Shoot away!  And by all means let the big guys crash the boards for offensive rebounds.  This offense isn't going to be rocket science either.  Don't overpass, don't overthink, just take your man and work for good, open shots.
  2.  If you destroy them on the boards, which is very possible, half of your battle is won.
  3.  You only have to worry about two specific defensive assignments.  Let Pau Gasol go for 20, but not for 30, especially not off the offensive glass.  Keep a hand in Mike Miller's face.  Can other people score big on you?  Sure.  But I doubt that'll win them anything besides a nice mention in the paper tomorrow.
  4.  Do not relax even if you go up a little bit.  Scoring 144 points in a game means by definition that you're capable of at least 36 point quarters.  If you get them down by all means kick them.
One of two things is going to happen tonight.  Either the Blazers are going to come out enormously flat and cough this game up in a fashion so ugly as to make Alice Cooper look like Miss America or the Blazers are going to get a convincing, well-deserved win.

For those who are wondering, as is my habit on back-to-back games I'm going to hold off posting the Jersey Contest Scoreboard until the second game is complete.  Look for it after the game tonight.

--Dave (