Thoughts from the Memphis Grizzlies loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Marc Gasol - It's strange what happens to Marc Gasol against the Warriors. If you just look at the box score, you'd see Marc posted 26 and seven, and probably think he played a really good game. And relative to how's he's look for most of the season to this point, he did have a good game.
But the Warriors are able to guard him with a 6-7 guy that Marc significantly outweighs. He did a much better job at times using his size to seal off his defender, making an entry pass easy, and he was usually fouled after receiving the entry pass - hence the 14 free throw attempts. But one-on-one, the Warriors are able to get away with having Draymond Green guard Marc Gasol.
Part of that is a credit to Draymond being an excellent defender and truly unique player, and another part is a credit to the general Warriors defensive scheme against the Grizzlies which is crowd the paint and run double teams at post passes.
It still never ceases to amaze me, though. The idea that a guy that measured 6-5 and three quarters without shoes at the draft combine can frustrate and more than competently defend a guy listed at 7-1 and is arguably the most skilled big in the world is something I have a hard time wrapping my head around - no matter how many times I've watched it.
Then again, I watch Tony Allen guard and frustrate Kevin Durant, and that may be more of a size disparity, so I guess the Marc, Draymond thing shouldn't be too crazy.
Moral Victories Not Enough - I think fans, to some degree, feel better about the Grizzlies after the loss to the Clippers and the second Warriors loss than they did about the Cavaliers and first Warriors losses. And justifiably so.
The Grizz looked more like the team fans had become accustom to seeing, playing hard, giving max effort, etc., even if the end result wasn't what they wanted.
But Marc Gasol doesn't see it that way.
"Of course we're playing hard," Gasol said. "If we didn't play hard, I would explode. It's our job. If we didn't play hard, that would be unacceptable. But only playing hard doesn't win games in this league, especially in the conference we're in, playing hard isn't enough."
No moral victories here.
JaMychal and Jeff Green - Wednesday night (and really, most of the season) was tough for the 'Jeff Green will be better with a full training camp' crowd. In 17 minutes, Jeff had 0 points, two rebounds, and two turnovers, and was beaten multiple times on the defensive end. He looks about as comfortable in the offense as Ricky Bobby did when he gave his first TV interview, and I think he has firmly entrenched himself in second in the Grizzlies Green Power Rankings.
Which bring me to JaMychal, who finished with nine points, nine rebounds, and two blocks in 25 minutes. JaMychal is slowly but surely winning over the hearts of Grizzlies fan everywhere with his never-quit style of play.
He's the very definition of a player who knows his role and plays that role to the very best of his ability. He's found that perfect balance of pushing to try to do a little more, but also knowing when to pull it back and not do too much.
JaMychal may very well have leaped Jeff in the rotation, and it's difficult to say that that's not deserved.
Mike Conley - We've not really gotten Contract Year Conley like everyone, including myself, thought we would. It's still very early, and I have the utmost confidence Conley will end up having a really good year. But it has not gotten off to a great start.
Conley did not speak to the media after the game because he went straight to the practice court to get up shots after his 1/12 shooting night.
Conley will be better, much better. But when he's not good, the Grizzlies aren't good. It's pretty much that simple.
Warriors - They're really good. Like really, really good. Their defense doesn't get enough credit for being so long and being able to switch virtually one through five - mostly because they're an offensive juggernaut. But it's really incredible to watch. Bob Myers, Travis Schlenk, and Kirk Lacob can not get enough credit for the way they've constructed this roster.
Steph Curry - I watched Steph hit the bottom of the rim on a layup to start out team warm-ups. I though maybe it was a sign he was, indeed, human after. But he's not.
This was his second best three of the night:
Because he also did this:
Both of those were just back-breakers. The Grizz were clawing their way back in the third, and Curry hit both of those in that quarter to just keep the lead out of reach. They reminded me of the three-quarter-court buzzer-beater Curry hit at the end of the third quarter in Game 6 of last year's playoffs against the Grizz to essentially end the series.