Two games into this playoff series with the Los Angeles Clippers, it's safe to say that it's time to make several adjustments.
Game 1 was a poor outing by majority of the team and Game 2 showed us all that this team can both compete and defeat this deep Clippers squad. The main adjustments come from playing time, who belongs to be on the court contributing and those who need more time to sit and think about their actions. I take a look into each players "playoff stock" has increased and decreased coming into Game's 3 and 4 and the FedEx Forum.
Mike Conley = Stock UP
Having a career night against the best point guard in the world and the best perimeter defender west of Tony Allen isn't shabby at all. Matching Chris Paul shot for shot may have been the more impressive feat. On the big stage Conley isn't having any problems showing the world why he's the second best player on this Grizzlies team. His defense on Paul is enough. Enough for the first 35-40 minutes until Lionel Hollins decides to put Tony on CP3.
His age is his best commodity at the moment though. The Clippers bench unit (Bledsoe-Crawford-Barnes-Odom-Hollins) has been what's winning the Clippers game and quite frankly, this Griz bench isn't getting the job done. Lionel Hollins will have to play his starters more minutes to match them up with this bench unti and Conley's the anchor of that since the big men have to reserve energy for the full 48. Conley's handling Paul offensively, but if he can best Bledsoe they'll leave the Fed Ex Forum tied 2-2.
Tony Allen = Stock UP
While Allen is the worst person the Grizzlies probably have offensively, he was an absolute beast in Game 2. His double-double (16-10) were huge and if it wasn't for Chris Paul being the superstar that he is, Allen's impressive outing would've led the Griz to a victory. We all know what Tony Allen is here for and that's defense. If he continues to add anything offensively he deserves more playing time.
Tayshaun Prince = Stock DOWN
Aww, how nice of Tayshaun Prince to show the Griz fans his best impression of Shane Battier in the 2010-2011 playoffs. Here are the two players per-game numbers in comparison.
Player A: 5.5 points, 4 rebounds, 43% from field, 27% from three.
Player B: 4 points, 5 rebounds, 20% from field.
I'll let you figure out who's who. Also Tayshaun Prince has a PER of 0.8. The only players on the team that have one lower are Austin Daye and Jon Leuer. In 68 total minutes, Prince has produced virtually nothing. Defensively isn't his problem. He still knows where to be, when to be there and what to do in several situations, but offensively he's been abysmal. And you can't sit him. He's vital to what this team does on both sides of the floor. Also less Tayshaun Prince means there's a bigger chance that Austin Daye gets on the floor.
Prince has got to pick it up though.
Zach Randolph = Stock DOWN
Watching Blake Griffin pick Z-Bo apart in the first quarter was absolutely painful. Despite his numbers saying one thing (13 pts, 8 rbs, 55% shooting per game), the eye test shows something else. His rebounding suffers against the like of Blake and DeAndre Jordan and his pick-and-roll defense isn't anything that'll leave you wanting for more.
I think I'm in the minority when I say I want to see more Arthur and less Randolph, but we can't expect this series to not have one vintage Randolph performance. We're all looking and waiting for it. A little less playing time would suffice, but there has to be enough minutes for Z-Bo to play to keep his head in the game and not have him mope around.
Marc Gasol = Stock EVEN
The second player in this series is finally beginning to realize that he's that guy. With Randolph's impact down from where we all expect it to be, the Defensive Player of the Year has got to step it up. I'd like to see more Gasol on Griffin to slow their leading scorer down. And more Marc Gasol's scoring needs to increase a tad bit more. But he's been everything you want him to be. There are questions about whether he could continue to play 43+ minutes a night with his backups not playing well, but Hollins + Gasol are clearly putting it all on the table to get the Griz back in this series. Hopefully it doesn't backfire.
Jerryd Bayless = Stock EVEN
Leading scorer in Game 1. Two points in Game 2. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde if you may. His limit in minutes Monday wasn't his fault. Tony Allen played a phenomenal game. With Game 3 and 4 on the cusp, he's got to score more. If Bayless can score 3/4 of the points Jamal Crawford is scoring every night, we can't really ask for more from him. But with his play of late we've grown accustom to seeing Good Jerryd Bayless on a nightly basis and, of course, during the playoffs, a Grizzlies bench player's production decreases. Odds say he's back to his normal self tonight, but if he tails off we'll definitely see more Tony Allen in the game.
Darrell Arthur = Stock UP
You know, it's like Game 1 never happened. That game screamed "Don't play DA, Ed Davis play him", but Game 2 said "stick to your gunz". And it worked. You can tell that he isn't anywhere near 100% health wise, but his instinct, pick-and-roll and post defense and ability to run and spread the floor help much more than the other two options the Grizzlies have available at the moment.
Arthur's last five minutes also reminded me of a 2010-11 Darrell Arthur playoff performance. He was running the floor, dunking the ball and hitting his trademark mid-range jumper. I've noticed that the more Arthur plays in a game, he often ends the night on a very productive note. Game 2 isn't close without Arthur's defense and late game shot. He's gotta stay in rhythm at home so more minutes should ensue for DA.
Ed Davis = Stock DOWN
Everything I disliked about Davis as a player since joining the Grizzlies is beginning to show again. He doesn't help spread the floor much. Often looks lost offensively and defensively. Doesn't have the strength to battle in the post with Blake Griffin. And during Arthur's slump, it opened the door for Davis to prove his worth and sadly he isn't there yet. Future of the franchise? Sure, but time on the bench will be best for Davis unless he has an outlier of a performance.
Quincy Pondexter = Stock DOWN
You know what the worst part of Tayshaun Prince playing poorly is? The fact that his backup can't help fill the void. Its the same old story with Pondexter whether it's the first two games of the playoffs or the entire regular season: since the MCL sprain he just hasn't been right. It's almost as sad to watch Pondexter as it is to watch Darrell Arthur last game. Difference is Arthur eventually made a difference while we're all still waiting for Quincy to continue hitting three's. Maybe bad Quincy isn't a bad thing. This forces Hollins to play a tighter rotation keep productive players in the game, but for once we'd all like to see a vintage pre-December performance form Q in this series.
Keyon Dooling = Stock DOWN
Greivis Vasquez. O.J. Mayo. Gilbert Arenas. Jason Williams. Ishmael Smith. Acie Law. Josh Selby. Lester Hudson. Jeremy Pargo. Allen Iverson. Jamaal Tinsley. You know where I'm going with this don't ya? The backup point guard situation hasn't been good and Dooling isn't going to save it. Watching Keyon matchup against Eric Bledsoe and/or Chris Paul is the basketball equivalent to Bane beating up Bruce Wayne in Dark Knight Rises. No more minutes for Dooling unless it's the last 55 seconds of the half or Conley/Bayless are in foul trouble.
Austin Daye = Stock DOWN
One word. NO. (also refer to Tayshaun for more information on Austin Daye).