Tonight, the Grizzlies look to gain a semblance of momentum and restore the balance in the series when they tip off against the Clippers at 10:30 EST on TNT. The Grizzlies game one performance, as we all know, was an abomination. I don't know whether to be more sad about Coach Lionel Hollins' lineup decisions or the fact that the Grizzlies looked like they forgot what won them 56 games in the regular season.
While these two things are sad, that's not even the worst of it. You know all of the "small things" our Grizzlies typically do better than the opponent? You know, like tip-ins, boxing out, balls won while diving on the floor? (You might want to sit down for this) It breaks my heart to say it, but the Clippers have "outhustled" and "outgrinded" the Grizzlies for the most part in all their recent meetings. Coach Hollins admitted as much at least when it comes to rebounding in his press conference after game one when asked to comment on his team's astonishingly awful -24 rebounding margin.
Here's Hollins' response:
Very surprised. But I've been saying when we played them before, they've gotten more boards than they should. Their wing people come in and get offensive rebounds.
My question to Hollins would be why though? Why do the Clippers come in and beat the Grizzlies on the offensive glass consistently? The Clippers are a good rebounding team, but they are not world beaters. Why does there seem to be a general lack of urgency against the Clippers, both in the regular season and playoffs, when it comes to preaching and executing the small things that have given the Grizzlies their identity over the last several years? The Grizzlies have a reputation of grittiness and tenacity to uphold, and the Clippers tarnished it, albeit a minuscule amount, in game one. Game two is the time to come out and rectify that.
NOT so fun facts from Game One:
- Eric Bledsoe had as many rebounds, 6, in game one as Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined.
- The Clippers bench finished with as many rebounds, 23, as the Grizzlies entire team.
- The effort was so poor, I struggled to find a photo from Game 1 to headline this article that portrayed anything positive for the Grizz.
- Want to know how many points Chris Paul scored against defenders not named Tony Allen? All 23 of them! Paul ran Conley ragged on pick and rolls all game long, and Conley simply could not fight over or under the screens efficiently. Paul is the best in the business at deceiving his defender into thinking he is going one way off the pick and then he goes the other.
- Put Tony Allen on Chris Paul. NOW! I don't care that he is an offensive liability that kills both the Grizzlies spacing and scoring. He is one of the key pieces that got the Grizzlies to this point. If I had to sacrifice point production or defensive production, I would pick point production with the way this team is built. This team is built to win games with defense, not with a high powered offense. Don't try to change who you are in the playoffs. It didn't work last year, and things aren't looking up thus far this postseason.
- Gasol was 4-12 from the floor in game one. He can get to wherever he wants on the floor against DeAndre Jordan. It is just a matter of finishing. Don't expect Gasol to have another line that poor for the rest of the series. The Grizzlies must also continue to force feed him on pick and pop situations, and his elbow touches must be increased. The offense has been better when run through Gasol all year.
- Stop Eric Bledsoe. He is a Grizzly killer. 7-7 from the field in game one. The Grizzlies bench can't seem to match his energy, and the Grizzlies do not have a defensive answer for him, at least one that is mature enough to play significant playoff minutes. (See Tony Wroten)
- The Grizzlies used their bread and butter play, the high-low action with Gasol at the elbow looking to feed Randolph on the low block a grand total of one time. (If you're curious what I'm talking about, check out my series scouting report here.)Blake Griffin did a phenomenal job of sniffing it out on a couple of occasions. Hollins must add some variations because the Clippers knew when it was coming in game 1.
- Limit the Clippers second chances. They had 14 offensive boards to the Grizzlies 4 in game one.
- Hollins must figure out his rotations. If you didn't at least say "What the hell?" once when you saw one of the strange lineups Hollins threw out there, then you are lying.
- If the Grizzlies are going to win game two, they must come out with a lot more energy than they did in game one on both ends of the floor. First and foremost, they need to get back to the basics. Play Grizzlies basketball! All heart, grit, grind.