Marc Gasol dominated the Trail Blazers frontline in Game 5. His 26 points and 14 rebounds were both team highs. Whenever the Grizzlies needed a bucket it seemed like Gasol provided. Big Spain took advantage of poor Meyers Leonard whenever he could, made Robin Lopez question everything and made LaMarcus Aldridge even more frustrated than he already was. The jump shot that disappeared for much of this series was on and he killed the Blazers with it. It was like efficient Gasol and aggressive Gasol met and had a this Gasol. It was a big time performance from a big time player.
Gasol wasn't the only one that was charged up offensively — Courtney Lee continued shooting fire out of his hands in Game 5. His 20 points on 8-12 shooting were a big part of the Grizzlies win. He can't replace Mike Conley's production, but he came very close. Leezus provided that perimeter presence the Grizzlies needed on offense for Gasol and ZBo to work inside. He didn't hit a three, but he was hitting all of his mid-range jumpers and worked his way to the basket some. Hopefully all of Lee's magic isn't gone after this series.
At one point in the second quarter the Grizzlies needed a spark and it came from the most unlikely place. Vince Carter hopped into his time machine, went back in time to borrow some of whatever he was doing in the early 2000's, and then came back to the game. He swooped in off a Grizz miss and yammed all over everyone. Then he drove the lane and spiked it with one hand. It looked like Vince was mad at the world and wanted to take it out on the rim. But unfortunately, he still couldn't hit a three to save his life
The two backup point guards, Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih, couldn't do much to replicate the offensive impact that Mike Conley has on the game. The pair shot 4-16 with 5 assists, but they did limit themselves to one turnover. The offense was not good with either point guard at the helm. A good Blazers game plan shut down any Calathes pick and rolls, while Udrih's injured ankle made it easy for him to guard. The struggles extended beyond the pick and roll, and neither seemed to be running the offense. It was all post entries or Lee/Carter creating for someone. This was a huge problem.
The Grizzlies offense was easy to stop when Gasol and Lee weren't shooting the ball. The spacing was awful and players were settling for too many jump shots instead of going to the rim. Jeff Green was the biggest culprit of this. His shot selection was less than stellar the whole game. Despite that, he did a good job of driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line. The Blazers weren't a great matchup for Green, but he didn't put up a single good game the whole series. Instead his playoff series was full of moments. His moments this game came in the last five minutes when he hit a jumper and layup to help the Grizzlies start their game-ending run.
I'm beginning to suspect that Calathes hitting four threes in Game 4 was the worst thing for him. Now he thinks he should shoot a bunch, which is the exact opposite of what he should be doing. His 3-10 shooting was certainly something to watch if you enjoy poor shot selection and a whole lot of missed shots. The offense was not run well under Calathes and it killed the Grizzlies. His inability to shoot allowed the Blazers to double the big he threw a post entry to, pack the paint at times and play off of him. The bad offense didn't stop there.
Zach Randolph started the game on a tear. It looked like he was going to have a 2011 type playoff game. Then the Blazers started bothering his shot more effectively and he shot 3-15 the rest of the way to finish with 16 points on 7-19 shooting. He had more shots than points. ZBo looked downright frustrated after his fast start. Meyers Leonard was able to get under his skin and provoke a technical after an ill advised foul on LaMarcus Aldridge. As ZBo lost composure so did the Grizzlies. This is when the level headedness of Mike Conley comes in handy. He would've calmed things down, but alas, he was in the stands, his face swollen and drugged out of his mind. The Grizz fell apart, but were able to gain composure long enough to put the Blazers away mostly because of Tony Allen.
The Grindfather did not want to lose this game. He wasn't going to let it happen. He had the best and most Tony Allen stat line possibly ever with 6 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks. The Grizzlies energy guy was all over the court all the time in Game 5. It was like watching a man possessed. He was going up for every offensive rebound he could, diving for loose balls and doing everything he could on defense to help the Grizzlies win. And to top it all off he hit the Grizzlies only three of the game. I think that's much more indicative of the Grizzlies offense in this game, however.
The Grizzlies perimeter defense wasn't great all game, but was able to lock down when they needed a stop the most. CJ McCollum lit up every person who tried to guard him for 33 points on 12-20 shooting. He was in a zone and the Grizzlies couldn't stop him. He was getting free in a variety of ways. Running around screens where Allen couldn't catch him, breaking down Udrih and Calathes off the dribble and sometimes the Grizzlies would just lose him in their pick and roll coverage. If they allow their next round opponent's shooting guard to do any of that it will be over quickly. Besides McCollum, Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum shot 2-15 from three point range. Lillard was able to score 22 points, but it was on 8-19 shooting.
The interior defense was great as usual. LaMarcus Aldridge was held to 14 points on 5-18 shooting. I actually can't believe he hit that many shots. It felt like he scored way less than that. Gasol did a good job of bothering him when he was guarding him and ZBo did a good job of physically abusing him whenever he was in Aldridge's vicinity. Gasol was really special on defense the whole series and it didn't change in Game 5. He was everywhere and did everything he had to do to help the Grizzlies win.
In the end the Grizzlies won. I don't know how they did it and it seemed like they had zero business doing so, but that seems to be most of the games they win. The Grizzlies just get it done.
- When Mike Conley was shown on screen and the crowd went wild my room got super dusty all of the sudden. It was the weirdest thing.
- Zach Randolph got the rare technical/flagrant combo. Both were deserved.
- Kosta Koufos only played nine minutes. No, I don't get it either.
- TONY ALLEN HIT THE ONLY GRIZZLIES THREE! HOW ARE WE NOT MAKING A BIGGER DEAL OF THIS?!?!?!
- THE GRIZZLIES WILL PLAY THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS IN ROUND 2. IT STARTS ON SUNDAY.