For the first time this season, the Grizzlies have dropped two in a row. Taking a look at the brutal stretch this team has faced sheds some light on how and why this happened. The Grizzlies last three contests before heading to Cleveland were against Golden State, San Antonio, and Chicago.
Playing four of the best teams in the NBA within a week will wear on any team, and injuries to key players didn't help. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen both sat out the contest against the Cavaliers to nurse injuries, which hurt the Grizzlies on both ends. They could have used Allen to sure up putrid pick & roll defense, and they could have used Randolph for balance offensively.
Without two key cogs, Coach Dave Joerger was forced to employ makeshift lineups against an extremely talented squad. Having so many guys playing out of position and with guys they aren't used to playing with was the Grizzlies undoing. More than fatigue, a lack of cohesion was the biggest issue for the Grizzlies in the team's defeat in Cleveland.
Marc Gasol did his best to make up for his frontcourt partner's missing productivity by posting a line of 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists, but even he couldn't get the Grizzlies in order. At one point in the third quarter, he threw the ball out of bounds to the referee. That's by far the most appropriate representation of this game.
The good news is that the Grizzlies are still one of the best teams in the NBA despite dropping two straight, and no rational person is questioning that. The bad news is that the Grizzlies have to be ready to play again tomorrow night in Memphis against the Utah Jazz. Better get some rest.