News just broke that Coach Dave Joerger is going to rest the "Core Four" of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Mike Conley (who's listed as out with an injury) for tonight's nationally televised game against the Wizards. It's an unexpected, "Popovichian" move by Coach Joerger, and I'm sure there will be more news about this decision throughout the day. Stay tuned to Grizzly Bear Blues for the latest. I wrote the rest of this column before this was announced.
There's never a good time to go into a slump, but March hasn't exactly been kind to rest of the top tier in the West.* The Grizzlies' biggest impediment to a first Southwest Division title, the Houston Rockets, have dropped 3 of 5 since they cheated their way to victory against the Cavaliers after Harden kicked the real King James right in his fellas. Portland has won 4 of 5 in the month, but lost Wes Matthews for the rest of the season in the process. The loss of Matthews, a legit third banana for the Blazers, probably removes them from title contention. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are 3 and 3 in the month with a bad loss to Utah with half the team out, a bad win against the Lakers, good wins against the Rockets and Bulls, and understandable losses on the road to the Pelicans and Celtics. That's right, the C's loss goes in the understandable column because they've been surging lately and they're scratching and clawing for a playoff spot. Remember when Memphis had to do that and they were like a rabid dog trapped in a corner? I'm not saying we didn't blow it last night, but let's keep things in perspective.
*Golden State, as always, is the exception.
These are the records of West playoff teams against other West playoff teams GSW 15-4 MEM 14-6 LAC 11-9 POR 10-9 HOU 9-11 SAS 7-11 OKC 5-12— Austin Reynolds (@ReynoldsRant) March 12, 2015
The net negative starting lineup thing is starting to get a little bit out of hand. While I was rummaging through Twitter's dark underbelly this morning, the great Rob Mahoney at SI did some real research and wrote this:
Go read that if you want to gain some real insight into what's up with your beloved Grizzlies right now. Or listen to Verno. There's a lot of people talking about it. Something's definitely wrong with the starting backcourt right now, and there's not really any one person to whom we can assign the blame. According to Mannix, it sounds as if Coach Joerger has adopted the philosophy espoused by our own Joe Mullinax on the past few episodes of GBB Live: We need Jeff Green's skillset more than Tony Allen's to win in the playoffs. It's only through volume playing time that this group will finally mesh. Damn the torpedoes, we're pressing on. I've been inclined to trust Joerger's plan to this point, but the evidence is mounting that these five guys can't get along for some reason. Verno brought up the other day that it seems to be the Green-Lee-Conley combo that's causing the most trouble, with Green-Allen-Conley, Lee-Allen-Conley, and even Green-Lee-Udrih all having significant net-positive ratings. If you can figure out why that's the case, then you should probably send your resume to John Hollinger.
Yea, so have you been on Twitter lately? Oh, you haven't? Well, my friend, I have good news. We're witnessing the dawn of a new age of thoughtful, intelligent discourse on the internet. Enjoy these charming dispatches from self-identified members of #GrizzNation:
Fewk.— Bruce VanWyngarden (@sylamore1) March 12, 2015
Bullshit— Elliott Brooks (@NUPE91) March 12, 2015
I'll admit it. I almost posted a single curse word last night too. Then I thought, "Ya know, it doesn't really help anything. I don't feel better after I do it. Maybe I'll do something else."
@FlyteKyloh lol dead ass fuck the grizzlies— Eddy (@Eddy_TheCreator) March 12, 2015
In case you were curious, @FlyteKyloh was talking about how he was going to make fun of Ben tomorrow. So the reason that Eddy responded this way is between him and God.
The Grizzlies be making me sick losing to these slaw ass teams— Malik Wright (@Not_Tha_DJ) March 12, 2015
This is usually the time of the year when we see facts like "Grizzlies are 30-6" since January. Why do we suck...— Marc (@MarcFinley) March 12, 2015
Poor Marc and Malik. To Malik's credit, he's bitching about a semi-serious issue: playing down to one's opponent. And after so many miracles this season (SAC, PHI, for example), we're now starting to get burned for letting bad teams stick around til the ends of games. As for Marc, buck up, buddy! We'll get through this! And if you prefer anger to emo, we've got you covered...
Grizzlies how the fuck you Finna lose to the fuckin celtics— Notafisherman (@BragasWill) March 12, 2015
How the fuck did Jeff Green let the garbage ass Celtics beat the Grizzlies? fuck man...— Harp... (@Harptime813) March 12, 2015
Grizzlies coach is a dumb ass why did he take Tony out and put Courtney in. The coach fucked this game up!— FrankWins (@frank_wins) March 12, 2015
We are not looking like a Championship Team. Fuck this slump GRIZZLIES— Elliott Brooks (@NUPE91) March 12, 2015
There's anger, of course, but there's also righteous anger. Anger that does not accept its lack of appreciation or attempts abet it.
@tabnmem don't try to turn my frown upside down with that cute kid and his cute Grizzlies song. Let me have my anger.— Jonathan Louis May (@jmay11) March 12, 2015
Lighten up, Francis. And finally, my personal favorite: drunk anger.
Great job guys. Now Im drunk and angry instead of drunk and sad.— Matt Hrdlicka (@theRealHrdlicka) March 12, 2015
You know what I have to say to all these Chicken Littles and Negative Nancies? Tell em, Messrs. Johnson and Johnson:
Oh right, we have a game tonight against the Wizards. And the Core Four is out. And the Wizards just went bowling like the Cavs did before they started tearing up the league. This might not go well.
Grizz 85 Wizards 96
|2015 NBA Season
45-19 (21-12 road)
36-28 (22-10 home)
|March 12th, 2015
|Verizon Center in Washington, DC
|6:00 PM CDT|
|TNT / 92.9 FM ESPN
|Courtney Lee||SG||Bradley Beal|
|JaMychal Green||PF||Nene Hilario|
|Kosta Koufos||C||Marcin Gortat|
|2015 Advanced Stats|
|92.0 (26th)||Pace||93.6 (18th)|
|106.3 (13th)||OffEff||104.0 (20th)|
|102.3 (4th)||DefEff||103.1 (10th)|