The Griz took on the Celtics for the first of their three game home stand on Tuesday, coming away with a 95-88, despite mishaps on the offensive end and occasional lapses of focus on the defensive side of things.
The Grizzlies opened slow, lacking ball movement that ended with a Tony Allen three ball (currently a 50% shot!), before Dave Joerger shut it down and put in Quincy, who promptly drained an open 3, and the Grizzlies responded to a 4-0 opening with an 11-0 run of their own. A lineup of Mike, Pondexter, Miller, Ed and Marc kept the great offensive play going, with Miller making a particularly nice play to set up Ed for a jumper. JB and Koufos came in with around 3 minutes left with a lead of 24-17 and although Jerryd continued the great ball movement (passing midair out of two mid range J’s instead of jacking them up), the Celtics managed to cut the lead to 24-27 by the end of the quarter.
The unit of Mike, JB, Miller, Ed and Koufos continued the nice play to open the second, moving in the open court for 3 consecutive fast break opportunities. Conley had a great stretch through the middle of the second, scoring 7 consecutive on two great finishes at the hoop and a 3. Finishing on the inside was somewhere where many thought he needed to improve in the offseason, (shooting 49% – below average) and so far hes shown growth, shooting 56% on a small 25 shot sample size. The story of the day for the Grizzlies was finishing quarters, and in the second things began to fall apart when they brought the starting line-up back in. There was no movement, and as well as a horrible Tayshaun post isolation set, the Grizzlies committed 5 turnovers in 6 possessions of passing miscues, offensive fouls from screens and establishing post/rebounding position as well as Tony Allen stepping out when he received the ball from Mike. With this terrible run, the half ended 52-46 with the Celtics shooting 54% for the half.
Whoever got in Gasol’s ear over the break needs to do the same in every break as he came out like so many fans want to see him play regularly, taking and making shots rather than forcing the pass. He went for a streak of 10 points on 5/5 shooting to open the half, whilst the grit and grind was back in the Forum, as the Grizzlies went on a 10-2 run by shutting down the Celtics offensively for 5 possessions straight. Great pace and ball movement were on display from the Grizzlies, and Tony Allen showcased some offensive play making skills, on one play getting Crawford to jump into the stands on a 3 point pump fake and driving with a dish to the inside (you gotta respect it Spurs -50%). Memphis led by 9, but gave up the lead with a 15-0 run, on the back of stagnant offensive sets which resulted in 3 missed mid range jumpers from Conley, as well as a poor transition and pick and roll defense (with Ed and Marc as the frontline). The quarter closed with the score at 72-66 in a quite FedEx Forum.
Let them rain JB!!!! I have to admit when he started firing i was squirming but it is so great to watch a player drop them in from the mid range and talk smack to anyone within earshot. Jerryd had 8 points for the Grizzlies by the midway point, taking adavantage of the Celtic’s poor pick and roll D by creating space around Koufos’ big body for open mid range 2′s. The unit of JB, TA (who came on for Q), Miller, Leuer and Koufos had great energy and ball movement, with the hustle of TA being shown in one possession where he manhandled the ball from Green and ran it up for another hockey assist, this time to Leuer. With the starters and JB for Tayshaun back in, the Celtics really had no answer in the closing moments as the Grizzlies ran high and low play through Marc and Zbo, and Conley and Bayless were able to ice out the game from the line, closing the affair 95-88.
STARTING LINE-UP :
To start out the gate and through the midway point of the third the Grizzlies starters seemed to halt any momentum the team were hoping to build or had started building. Trying to feed their big men, they were unsuccessful due to stagnant offense and a lack of floor spacing. The contrast and variety of options was instantly noticeable when a Z-bo post up turned into a ball swinging action resulting in a wide open 3 from Pondexter who replaced Allen by the 4 minute mark.
The Grizzlies shot 17/34 for 34 points on inside shots (50%) whilst the Celtics were 15/22 for 30 (68%). Griz really need to finish these inside opportunities moving forward.
THE DEFENCE (ON OCCASION) Fell asleep at times on defence, and although you could point to the Celtics’ hot shooting (I will later), there were instances in which we looked lazy in the open court, and slow on the pick and roll (there was one horrible instance with Q and Ed, where they talked but kept their feet glued to the ground) – still needs to pick up.
QUINCY PONDEXTER :
This isn’t really that bad, but on a forgetful night for Q i think we got to see what his worst case scenario could be (barring injury). Was 2/6 from the field for 8 points, 2 TO’s and 1 board, and didn’t have much of an impact after starting strong with two 3′s. I think that if this is his floor, it really shows how great his contract is (around 3.25 mil per season) and we all know how great Pondexter can be if he continues to expand his game as he looks to have done in the offseason.
I’m loving the new Grizzlies offense, I really believe it will take until maybe 20 games to really get it in motion and remove the kinks, but there have been great instances. Joeger has stated his philosophy to basketball offensively is "By and large, quicker pace and ball movement" and the team has already started to show it. I love watching the ball swing around the court when Conley is on the court with at least one swingman who can shoot, and after averaging 12 fast break points last season, the Grizzlies are up to 17 over the last four games. The goal to be in the top 10 on both offense and defence is still in the works, but looks to be on its way.
DEFENCE (ON OCCASION):
After allowing 100+ points in our last 3 games the grind was back (on occasion) where we held the Celtics to scoreless or late shot clock prayers in back to back possessions, notably in the third and fourth quarters. 88 isn’t the most spectacular number in the world, but a 3 to Faverani and Sullinger? and two heat check 3′s from Crawford when he didn’t even hit his previous shot?? The Celtics shot 68% inside which is an area both our guards and big men need to improve upon, but the Celtics were hot from mid range, with Bradley 6/12 with 4 mid range pull-ups that I counted, whilst Sullinger was devastating from the block with face up jumpers.
So if their offense and defence was good, how’d they only beat the winless Celtics by 7? Meh, i’m not sure, when do we ever win big anyway (unless its the Heat)?
(you can check out my blog here as well - http://gritgrindgrizzlies.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/memphis-vs-celtics/)