Tonight is a big game for our Grizzlies; in a series we are expected to win, that road will be paved much more easily with a victory in the "Community" of Loud City tonight. Here are some things to look for as adjustments moving forward...
1. An aggressively facilitating Mike Conley- Mike should look to engage his teammates on the drive more consistently tonight. A constant point of frustration for me and other Grizz fans is the apparent lack of calls our guys get in the paint. Despite this, we have to continue to attack the basket. And this is especially true of Mike Conley. While he drove and got multiple shots in the paint (8 of his 15, he missed 5 of them), Mike only had 3 assists. When Mike gets more than 7 assists, the offense flows better and becomes more based on the open man finding his shot. Mike will find his stroke and hit those layups with more regularity, but less pressure on Mike to score means more ability to pressure the defense and make them pick their poison.
2. Less Quincy or Tayshaun, more (and better) Tony. Q was effective from long range last game, and we all know Lionel loves Q's versatility. However, Tony Allen needs more minutes. The Grizzlies the past 2 years when Tony Allen plays more than 25 minutes in the playoffs are 6-2. When he plays less, they are 1-5 (thanks to Chris Vernon for the stat.) That's not a bad sample size. Obviously situation dictates this some; if we're down 10 I would rather our most offensively balanced lineup with Bayless off the ball. Close game, or if we are protecting a lead, Tony Allen needs to turn the water off on KD or Martin. The Grindfather needs more minutes, and if that means Tony at the 3 more, so be it. Part of that is Tony himself; he needs to be under control offensively and focus on his man more on defense. He does those things, he needs to be on the floor. Period.
3. Commitment to the boards. This coincides a bit with one of the top rebounding 2 guards in the league playing more. However, Darrell Arthur, Tayshaun Prince and Quincy need to recommit to the boards themselves. Outside of Marc and Zach, no one had more than 5 rebounds. Kevin Durant had more rebounds by himself than Tay, Q and DA combined. In order for us to take control of the series KD cannot get 15 defensive rebounds tonight or ever again. Get a body on him and box out, get extra posessions off of offensive rebounds. Ed Davis instead of DA at times could possibly provide the help on the boards we need, especially on the offensive glass using his length and athleticism for the DeAndre Jordan Memorial tip out rebounds.
Improvements at the free throw line and on backdoor cuts have been discussed a lot. However, if the Grizz get a more facilitating Mike Conley, more good minutes out of Tony Allen and a better commitment to the boards as a team, they will head into a 3 day break back in Memphis with a 1-1 split against OKC.