It's just the preseason, it's just the preseason, it's just the preseason...
Grizzlies fans across "Greater Memphis" had to be saying that to themselves at some point in the first 3 quarters of a slop fest of a basketball game. Now, it being the 2nd preseason game, there are valid reasons for this, the major one being that 5 regulars (Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Kosta Koufos, Tayshaun Prince and Quincy Pondexter) sat this dance out. Limiting minutes and appearances in the preseason going forward makes sense, especially on this veteran team. But it is hard to get a feel for how players will fit together and how the system will work when fully utilized. Plus, if you're looking to limit minutes on weary legs, why are Zach Randolph and Mike Conley playing as much early? Obviously there are still 6 preseason games to be played, perhaps they will rest later on...
All that being said, despite how ugly it was early on the young Grizzlies made a run in the 4th quarter, cutting a lead that was at one point 21 all the way to a momentary lead behind amazing passing from Nick Calathes and solid defense, at one point holding the Mavericks (with a lineup of likely cut causalities, to be fair) to 3 points in 7 minutes in the 4th quarter. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off at the end and the Mavericks won 95-90.
Before I overreact too much to the 2nd preseason game, some thoughts...
- Turnovers and missed free throws continue to be an issue for the Grizzlies. 17 turnovers, 16-28 from the charity stripe. Preseason or not, you are not going to win many basketball games losing that many posessions and shooting 57% at the line. A positive from one game to the next? The Grizzlies won the rebounding battle 51-46, led by Jon Leuer and Ed Davis with 10 a piece.
- Speaking of Jon Leuer, JON LEUER GAME ALERT!!! Steals, break away dunks, 17 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in 34 minutes. He somehow had more assists than Nick Calathes (3), which makes no sense. That makes 2 games in a row where Jonny Leu looks like he wants some PT with this Grizzlies roster. He is very smart and smooth in his game, and he makes up for a lack of athleticism with an understanding of passing lanes and body positioning. He can help Coach Joerger and crew, but seeing him consistently against better competition is a must.
- Mike Miller, 0-6 from 3. What? The Grizzlies struggled from 3 in general. 2-20? Not exactly floor spacing material. Part of this is getting used to playing in a new system, but as the preseason grinds along finding a shooting groove would be nice. Jerryd Bayless in particular struggled tonight, 2-7 from the field in 24 minutes for a +- of -23. Yikes. Mike Conley was the only Grizzly "regular" who finished with a single digit minus in the +-. Does some of that have to do with it being preseason? On this team absolutely. When it's go time, it'll be on like Donkey Kong.
- Ed Davis struggled a good bit against Dallas. He had one of the ugliest double double games I have seen with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes of action, and while his length and athleticism led to rebounds and a block, he still seemed aloof at times in terms of his role on the floor and that shows in his -13 +- rating. His free throw shooting was also suspect at best tonight; 2-10 is just terrible and indefensible. If Ed isn't going to shoot better than that, he can't play prolonged minutes for this Grizzlies team and Kosta Koufos or even Jon Leuer will be the beneficiaries behind our two All-Star bigs.
- As much as Ed struggled at times, others had some flashes of positivity. Jamaal Franklin did some good things. 9 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and seemed more comfortable in the flow of the game tonight. Willie Reed and Tony Gaffney also did well in spurts, making the decision on who will be kept (if anyone) a bit more interesting heading into Sunday's preseason showdown with Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli league. Calathes really has a feel for setting up his teammates well and could quite possibly steal some back-up point minutes from JB. The young bull Grizzlies had a good showing against the Mavs.
Three weeks until the season opens in San Antonio. Hopefully Grizz nation will see a bit more cohesion from the key rotation guys moving forward.