In the National Basketball Association, scheduling doesn't get much worse than the dreaded double back-to-back.
So it's probably easy to forgive the Grizzlies for looking sluggish in this one, especially given Coach Hollins's reliance on his starters to play heavy minutes night-in and night-out.
Not to take anything away from the Cavs, who's lockdown defense and constant energy at home is, and should be, probably tough enough to crush any given team on any given night -- much less the upstart Grizzlies on the back end of this tough stretch.
Rudy Gay was the lone bright spot for the Grizzlies in the first half, as he was 6-12 on a night when the Grizz shot just 35% in their incredibly poor opening two quarters. As this team walked into the locker room, it was clear that this one was over before it even started.
LeBron James paced the Cavaliers, as he does most nights, by scoring 22 points. More importantly, however, he deftly commanded the offense with Mo Williams and Delonte West injured, handing out 15 assists. Daniel Gibson heated up against Mike Conley, scoring 16 points in 33 minutes. Shaquille O'Neal also had a surprisingly solid night, getting 13 and 13 in just 21 minutes.
Now I know old Shaq can still score, but letting him grab 13 boards in that short of a time is a clear indication that the Grizzlies were simply worn out for this one. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph didn't even combine for a double-double, much less their usual 30-20.
The backcourt wasn't much better, though. O.J. Mayo shot just 4-15 from the field, though he did have a respectable 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Mike Conley's performance was memorably poor, even by his standards. Mikey shot just 1-6 from the field, and pitched in 2 rebounds and 1 assist to his 2 turnovers. In only 20 minutes on the court, Conley was -18.
Just about the only positive to take from this one is that the bench played respectably in trash time. DeMarre Carroll saw huge minutes (22) and had a respectable line with 8 points and 4 rebounds (3 offensive). Hasheem Thabeet only picked up 2 fouls in 18 minutes and contributed a couple blocks, a perfect 6-6 on free throws, and some solid play on the boards.
Of course the bench doesn't feel the problem of playing 4 games in 5 nights like the starting lineup, so their decent play compared to the starters is probably even more indication of just how hopeless this game was all along.