Two big games this week, both great Grizzlies wins, and three more games before Christmas. Before the Grizzlies break for the Christmas holiday, we at Grizzly Bear Blues wanted to chat about the back-to-back from hell and the schedule going forward. Joining us today are Chris Faulkner, Keith Edwards, C. GrrrrBrrr, Adam Rubrum, Jonah Jordan, Matt Hrdlicka, and Austin Reynolds.
1) What did we learn from the Golden State win on Tuesday?
Chris Faulkner: The Grizzlies still own the Warriors, regardless of how awesome they are.
Keith Edwards: I think we learned that in order to beat the Grizzlies at home, you have to play pretty flawless basketball.
C. GrrrrBrrr: All of the Warriors' hopes and dreams rest on the brittle knees of Andrew Bogut. This isn't a dig (the Grizzlies would sink like a stone if something were to happen to Marc Gasol), but Bogut's inability to stay healthy through the rigors of an NBA season (not to mention the 2nd season from April to June) put a big, fat asterisk by their name when you start looking down the road. They've played better ball than anybody else this season, but Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green do not a championship front line make. As crazy as it sounds, if Bogut isn't 100% when the playoffs start, I think that team is an easy out for one of the West's lower seeds (ya know... those chumps from Dallas or OKC.... Good lord the West is brutal!).
Adam Rubrum: We learned a few things. First, Vince Carter is finally starting to shake off the rust from the 3pt line. Carter struggled with some easy layups and a few poorly selected midrange shots, but he hit the ones that mattered most, open 3s. If VC can be a little more selective and consistent, he will be everything and more that the Grizzlies had hoped for when he was signed to replace Mike Miller. Second, TA is struggling badly. I’m not sure if it was a good thing that he didn’t get a chance to play against the Spurs, but these last few weeks have been a pretty tough stretch for Tony. Everyone enjoys the dancing and finger pointing, but if he keeps missing easy layups and allowing shooters easy shots off missed gambles, the fans will start to turn. Third, never count out Mike Conley. One game removed from his huge night at Philly, Mike was struggling most of the game. He missed easy layups, his floater was off, and his unfortunate new habit of trying to pass mid-air was in full effect. However, he stepped up big in the 4th quarter. True, he
absolutely might have traveled on the bucket prior to the Iguodala dance party, but he was once again called upon to take and make a big shot with 30 secs left to keep the game at 2 possessions.
Jonah Jordan: VINCE CARTER IS ALIVE AND CAN HELP THE GRIZZLIES. I think the game against the Warriors finally woke Carter up from the dead. Instead of plodding around the court like he is dragging a boulder behind him. Vince went from 4-7 from three against the Warriors and then 5-9 in a huge win against the Spurs. I think it's safe to say he's alive.
Matt Hrdlicka: The Grizzlies bench can score.... as long as they're forcing turnovers. When Gasol and Conley sit, the team struggles in the half court. They can go on mammoth scoring runs, but those are often built on the back of secondary breaks, and semi-transition threes.
Austin Reynolds: That the Warriors still struggle to match up with the Grizzlies. Obviously Andrew Bogut being out really hurt their defense, but the Grizzlies have had Golden State's number for years and that trend continued Tuesday night. Guarding Zach Randolph with a small ball four isn't going to get the job done.
2) What did we learn from the San Antonio win on Wednesday?
Chris: That I can achieve a full aerobic workout from watching a basketball game.
Keith: We learned that the Grizzlies are resilient, and that the possibility of beating the Spurs does exist, however remote it may be.
GrrrrrBrrr: The Grizzlies are not screwing around this year. It's one thing to will yourself to an insane victory when you're playing on no rest and the opponent is Philadelphia, but everything about that game flipped the script for these two teams. Most importantly for Z-Bo. His play this season might be the most underrated story of the year so far, and it was never more evident than last night as he closed on Matt Bonner corner threes again and again. Dude is hungry right now. And you could tell that game meant the world to him. He's playing better than he did when he was an All-Star, and he's our third best player.
*To add to that last statement, I’ve also learned that no matter what happens, the sports media outside Memphis will never accept Memphis as a legit contender until they crush a team with a full roster. If Noah is out against the Bulls and we win, they will say "they only won because Joakim was out". I absolutely hate when the media plays the "what if" game because it is never a two way street. Good teams find ways to keep the boat afloat until they get back to full strength. The Grizz did it last year when Marc was injured, and other teams can do it as well.
Jonah: I really want to say that we learned the Grizzlies can beat the Spurs, but I think it may be premature. The Spurs were without three guys (Parker, Leonard, Mills) that consistently kill the Grizz. I learned that ZBo can be effective against the Spurs in his own way: Isoing Boris Diaw, posting up deep under the basket, and offensive rebounds. Man Z-Bo can rebound and he was destroying the Spurs on the boards. The Spurs have limited him so much over the last few years so it's great to see him have a bit of success against them.
Matt: Do everything possible to get out of the Spurs side of the playoffs. Tank. Win. Do whatever it takes.
Austin: There are about a million different things we learned from that madness, but if I've gotta pick one, I guess I'll go with Vince Carter looking really good for the second night in a row. For the first time all season he looked healthy in the Golden State and San Antonio games, and provided the bench scoring and shooting that we all expected when he was signed in the off-season.
3) If you could add one of the players from GS or SA, who would it be?
Chris: It'd be Kawhi Leonard, even though he didn't play.
Keith: It's gotta be Kawhi Leonard, right? After all, the Grizzlies have to have a #wingscorer to take the last shot of the game for them
Matt: Manu Ginobili.
GrrrrrBrrr: All of you guys who said Kawhi Leonard have lost your minds. This is the kind of thinking that leads to drafting Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. Yea, I know we're a bit thin when it comes to traditional small forwards, but the correct answer is Steph Curry. Because he's probably the fourth best player in the league. BUT MIKE, you scream. Calm down, play him at the 2, and sit back and enjoy 7 straight championships.
Matt: Manu Ginobili.
Austin: Gotta go with Kawhi Leonard, even though he didn't play against Memphis on Wednesday. He's young, athletic, an outstanding defender, and a serviceable shooter. The Grizzlies don't have a lot of weaknesses, but probably the biggest one is the lack of an athletic, starting caliber small forward. Leonard would fill that need.
4) What do you expect from the remaining games before the holiday (Friday against Chicago, Sunday at Cleveland, and Monday against Utah)?
Chris: I could see the Grizzlies dropping tomorrow's game against the Bulls from exhaustion. If I'm honest though, I expect another 3 wins.
Keith: I think you can expect one stinker, be it Friday or Monday. I think you can also expect the bench to get some extended run in one of the latter games
GrrrrrBrrr: I think we're going to win all of them because Z-Bo is going to want to impress Marc in front of Marc's "other" brother, and then because Z-Bo wants to make a fool of Kevin Love, and then because Utah is garbage.
Adam: If we are going by the normal Grizzlies routine, I expect them to play close, hard fought games against Chicago and Cleveland, which will be determined by the last two minutes of the game. Then on Monday, they will play down to their competition and struggle against Utah, yet ultimately win the game.
Jonah: No rest for the weary. This December is brutal for the Grizzlies and it's not letting up. A tough road still lays ahead. They are going to blow one of these games because of how tired they are. I think it may be Cleveland or Utah. The Chicago game is guaranteed to be a fight down to the last minute. Hopefully Coach Joerger can find some rest for the big guys in these games or we may see Marc Gasol keel over.
Matt: Three young guys that the Grizzlies should look at. Chicago's Niko Mirotic is a very effective stretch 4. Cleveland's Matthew Dellavedova is Cleveland's second best guard. And Utah's Rudy Gobert will give Gasol and ZBo fits.
5) What Christmas song can you just not get out of your head??
Chris: Wham! Last Christmas.
Keith: I always have a song stuck in my head, but I don't currently have a Christmas one in there. If the intention was simply to find out our favorite Christmas song, then it's "Baby, It's Cold Outisde". I'd really love to hold hands and go ice skating with Nasim Pedrad while we sing that song. This whole message has been a cry for help.
GrrrrrBrrr: There is no Christmas music. There is only BLACK MESSIAH by D'Angelo. I've been waiting for this album to drop for 12 years (I didn't get into Voodoo til college), and I don't have enough words to express how perfect it is. I love it. I love it so much that I'm not even going to make a pithy comment relating back to the Grizz. BLACK MESSIAH is above that.
Adam: Usually it is Jingle Bell Rock, but lately it has been Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, which of course kind of sounds like Jingle Bell Rock. I hate Christmas music and I’m guessing it is subconsciously etched into my mind through memories of watching Home Alone.
Jonah: Christmas In Hollis by Run DMC. Greatest Xmas song ever.
Matt: That Buble jam.
The Grinch Himself Austin: I have no Christmas music stuck in my head. I hate Christmas music. It's the worst. Christmas is great, but the music sucks. The song I've had stuck in my head lately is Breaking Up by Charli XCX. Her new album dropped this week and it's great. Guaranteed to be better than any Christmas music.