FanPost

Memphis at Lakers - Why it was competitive / Why trading Z-bo would be just WRONG

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The Griz won 96-99, but there were still some issues, that I hope aren’t exploited by the Clippers and Warriors, possibly even the Kings (say it ain’t so!). The Lakers are a fast paced team (3rd fastest in the league currently), and shoot 25 three’s a game (41%). Although we won, we struggled to defend on the perimeter and our transition defense was hidden behind poor transition offense by the Lakers, these two areas are ones that the Clippers and Warriors excel at. (T-R-O-U-B-L-E)

Perimeter Defense

The Lakers shot 24 three’s on the night at a 41% rate, with our wing players all guilty of coming of their perimeter men to help on the inside. Against a Dantoni team, the three ball should be defended at a premium, yet it allowed the Lakers to stay in this one. The Grizzlies want to own the paint, but silly decisions in collapsing the paint needlessly need to be sorted out before the tough upcoming games.

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-TA has come off Jodie Meeks, a good 3-point shooter completely, to help Marc on his brother. In this situation I don’t think he had to completely commit or could have left Marc, who dealt with Pau well, play one on one. (Z-bo and Conley getting caught up didn’t help)

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-This play is more inexcusable, as the Grizzlies have left open 3 shooters on the perimeter to collapse on Gasol, who makes a nice pass. With Koufos stepping up, help was maybe only needed from one perimeter player.

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-Mike is also guilty, helping off Farmar for some reason, who sent it to Meeks for another make.

If these defensive lapses happen against the Warriors and Clippers the Grizzlies will be punished from deep. Both attempt 24 threes a game on average with the Warriors shooting 45% and Clippers 33% (JJ, Dudley, Crawford, Barnes can all be dangerous from 3).

The Lakers took advantage of inside out play on the Grizzlies through penetration and kicks as well as nice passing from Gasol. There needs to be better communication on help defense if we’re to stop the offensive juggernauts coming up.

Transition Defense – Get back on D

Although offensive rebounding is essential for the grit and grind for the Griz, defense is more important, and the team seems to be leaning too far towards offensive boards rather than getting back on defense. There is a fine line between disrupting the break by battling for the boards and making sure you’re back on D, and the Griz are treading it dangerously at the moment. Although the Lakers, mainly Steve Blake, pulled up on a fair few break opportunities, the Clippers and Warriors won’t allow such luxuries.

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-This fast break opportunity was created seemingly from laziness, turn around Marc! (Mike Miller has already hobbled back to play D) – ended in an offensive foul, but Farmar sliced through Bayless and Miller for the opportunity.

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-Conley shooting the contested layup, TA comes in for the board from the perimeter, get back on D Tony!

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-Here’s the flip side of the coin, how to stop Z-bo on the glass? Have four players fight for the rebound – allowing the Grizzlies to get back on D.

Crashing the offensive glass is a part of the Grizzlies identity, but it needs to be done smartly (ie if Conley drives, get back on D Tony). When Z-bo is in, he’s the only Grizzly that needs to be regularly battling for offensive boards. Also, players out of range for the rebound need to run back and stop watching the ball bounce off the rim.

Memphis won despite these lapses due in part to the great inside play from Z-bo and Marc on the offensive end, as well as their great Pick and Roll defense (I’ll explore that in comparison to GSW and LAC), against everyone whose name wasn’t Steve Blake.

Don’t Trade Zach!

Zach is the heart and soul of the franchise (along with the re-signed Tony Allen), but he’s also the motor that keeps it running. The rumour mill has churned out Pau as a possible target, but along with off the court reasons for keeping their main man (he’s said he’d consider a pay cut by the way), this game demonstrated numerous reasons why the Grizzlies can’t afford to trade Z-bo (or Papa Z?).

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-Another instance of Zach stopping the break in his own way, the Lakers had to commit to the defensive board and couldn’t run the break.

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-Inside out play at its best – Zach waits to see if the Lakers are going to double him, and when they do, gives it up to Tay for a big ol’ brick. He hit several times including the game clincher when played one-on-one. His passing was great in the clutch, with one nice play on a feed to a cutting Gasol for the hook.

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-He’s playing some defense! Although he does sometimes leave his man open (Jordan Hill had a few open looks), Zach is looking better in pick and roll defense. In this play he shut down Young’s driving lane in two consecutive picks, then recovered back to his man in time.

So all in all, we won this game but it was still quite worrisome for the tough road ahead. With one win already, a positive/realistic aim would be to go 3-1, with a win against the Clips or Warriors (preferably the Clippers). I’ll be writing some stuff on how I think we can win against both those teams, but may just fall into depression if we lose to the Kings (a possible reality).

FanPosts do not necessarily represent the opinions of myself, and may include questionable or unreliable material.

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