Feb 29, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) drives between Dallas Mavericks forward Yi Jianlian and guard Jason Terry (31) at the FedEx Forum. Memphis defeated Dallas 96-85. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
Well, I feel stupid. The Grizzlies won last night, but did so in a way which directly contradicted everything I wrote in my game preview. For instance:
When it comes to superstars, I've always had a belief that they simply cannot be stopped, so teams shouldn't even bother. Instead, teams ought to a) focus on shutting down their teammates and/or b) hope that someone, or a platoon of players, can step up and match the superstar's production. Look, Dirk is one of my favorite players in the NBA, and by now we all know that the man is so good that he can score at will on anyone.
Last night, Dirk played 9 minutes and was 0-1. Granted, his complete ineffectiveness was due to injury, rather than anything the Grizzlies managed to do, but still.
Here's another example:
Tonight I think the most interesting (and most important) match-up will be played out by the sixth men. After last year's playoff run, I thought OJ could become a Jason Terry-type 6th man, and so far this season, he's proving me right (though, it's worth noting that his numbers, especially his efficiency, are not nearly as good as Terry's). Not only that, but it seems as if he's often the barometer for the entire team; when he plays well, we win.
Naturally, OJ managed only 7 points on 3-10 shooting. Terry scored 18 points, but the Grizzlies not only won but controlled the entire game.
Essentially I was 0-2 in my keys for the game (the third key wasn't so much a prediction as a question). So in other words, take anything I write with a grain of salt from now on. In my defense, I got a few minor points correct. I argued that Marc or Rudy needed to step up and match Dirk's production. My thinking was that it would create a wash, and I felt confident that the rest of our team could outplay their team. Although OJ played poorly and Rudy didn't have a terribly efficient outing, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol were fantastic. Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter had really solid games off the bench as well. On the other side, Dallas actually played fairly well considering that their were without Dirk for most of the game, but they just didn't get it done without his presence. Credit to Memphis for not giving away a winnable game.
Player of the Game:
Mike Conley--20 points, 10 assists, 4 steals, and only 2 turnovers. Great stuff, Mike.