Word came out late Saturday that Marc Gasol was, unfortunately, suffering from a left foot strain, and his availability for Sunday night’s game against Golden State was in question.
Grizz center Marc Gasol being treated for a left foot strain and is questionable for Sunday's game at Golden State.— Michael Wallace (@MyMikeCheck) March 26, 2017
That’s the bad news. The good news? At least the injury isn’t to the same foot that sidelined Marc last season. For now, at least, Grizzly fans can heave a sigh of relief.
But regardless of the severity of the injury, the Grizzlies need to exercise caution. Marc Gasol — and Mike Conley — should sit out on Sunday night.
Marc Gasol should be commended for what he’s done this season. Big Spain was entering just the second year of a five-max contract and coming off a major foot injury. Based on the history of big men with foot injuries, Grizzly fans had every reason to expect catastrophe.
But Gasol passed every test with flying colors. He carried the team during an injury-riddled opening to the season and was the anchor to what was, at one point, the league’s number one defense.
That said, there’s no denying Gasol’s performance has slipped of late. His shooting percentages have steadily fallen and the defensive ability just isn’t there night in and night out. Gasol just looks… I dunno, really. Tired? Disinterested? Like he’s coasting, or injured, or something else? Without being in Gasol’s head, it’s kinda hard to know.
But whatever the reason, whether its injury or fatigue or just general disinterest, the only cure is rest.
In the interest of full disclosure: I was going to write this article even before Wallace’s tweet; the injury news is just the cherry on top. Gasol hasn’t looked great lately. Giving him time off to freshen up and get his mind right seemed like the best bet for getting Gasol back on track.
Originally, there was an argument to be made that sitting Gasol against Sacramento would’ve made more sense, because you should be able to win that game against a Kings team that’s #bad even without Gasol. I’d argue the opposite. The Grizzlies, even fully healthy and with Durant still out, have little shot at beating Golden State at Oracle, meaning Sunday’s game is really the better option for giving Gasol a break.
Now, with the injury news, benching Marc seems like a given. But I’d also like to see Conley given a DNP (rest) as well.
This season, Conley’s averaging 33+ minutes per game, which isn’t a career high, but it’s above his career average. He’s been healthy since returning from the back injury, but I’d rather not give him more minutes than I have to. Conley’s always had a history of wearing down, and given that track record, the Grizzlies should prioritize keeping tread on the tires for playoff time.
If Marc does sit on Sunday, Conley becomes the Grizzlies’ lone star and main facilitator. That’s an enormous burden against any team, much less Golden State. Why force the issue? Memphis has gone toe-to-toe with the Warriors already this season. There’s nothing to prove here. I understand that the standings matter, but the Grizzlies were likely always going to lose this game. Running Mike Conley into the ground feels like a waste in this situation.
Look, I get it if you think this argument sounds defeatist, or if it comes off as throwing away a game. But the Grizzlies have to optimize their shot at playoff success this season, and the best way to do that is to rest Mike and Marc, a fact that’s even more true given recent injury news.