How to, and how not to, employ the "Next Man Up' Approach
The Grizzlies managed a come-from-behind need-this-one-or-there-goes-the-four-seed victory over the Portland TrailBlazers on Wednesday night, thanks to a third quarter comback and a few fourth quarter miracles. And some grit. And some grind.
Marc and Mike played well, particularly in the second half. Bayless played well, particularly in the fourth quarter. Wroten is starting to play well, and made a positive contribution to the game.
Tayshaun and Tony Allen missed way too many shots. But, Tayshaun made a mighty contribution by playing the stretch four in a smallball lineup. Took one for the team.
We have to realize that Zach was out, his backup Darrell Arthur was out, and Pondexter was "sick as a dog".
One would hope that the "next man up" approach would work, like it does with the San Antonio Spurs. But, this is the Lionel Hollins led Memphis Grizzlies. At any position, once you get past the first, maybe second man deep... the "next man up" is not prepared to deliver.
Ed Davis has the makings of a fine basketball player. But, the Grizzlies play a system, both offensively and defensively, that Davis has not yet learned. To make matters worse, the "system" that is played by the second unit is not the same as the system that is played by the starters.
Playing with the starters, which he hasn't really done before, Ed Davis was a liability on both ends of the floor. It is not that he is a bad basketball player. He is a good basketball player. But he does not yet understand and has not yet practiced the system used by the starting unit. In fact, he has not developed the skillset required by a power forward in the starting unit.
When playing with the second unit, his quickness, leaping ability, and athleticism allow him to rebound, putback, block shots, etc. He broke down with the first unit on both ends.
Defensively, he was out of synch with Mike Conley defending the pick and roll. This is something that both Zach and Darrell do very well. If Conley goes under the pick, Davis has to show out momentarily to cover the guard until Conley can recover. If Mike goes over the pick, Davis must stay with the big that is setting the pick.
With Lilliard, Conley was fighting over the pick, as he should have. But, Davis would show. This left both of them covering Lilliard, and the pick man wide open rolling to the basket.
Offensively, Davis does not post up his man. So, they cannot get him the ball in the same spots they get the ball to Zach. Going to the elbow at the free throw line, which works well with the second unit, does not work with the first unit because that spot is occupied by Marc Gasol.
Davis does not really box or seal his man down low, either, so that he and Marc can play hi-lo, where Marc can get him the ball down on the low block. This is one of the things that make Marc and Zach such a deadly offensive tandem. Ed Davis does not know that game.
You could look at this as Ed Davis just not being with the team long enough, that he has not had time to learn the system. May be.
But, is it just me? Doesn't it seem strangely ineffective that the second unit does not use the same system as the first unit?
Not only does that approach expose a team to games like this, it also makes it very difficult to mix in players, play matchups, and go with the hot hand.
Well, they fought through it... and got the win. Good work.