The Grizzlies lost to the Warriors on the road Sunday night, 106-94. The Warriors won was there seventh in a row; their last loss was on March 14th. The Grizzlies have now lost three in a row, all road games. Sunday night’s loss was a battle until the fourth quarter- the game was not out of hand until the last five minutes of the contest.
The Grizzlies have been streaky in the second half of the season. The last twelve games look like this: losing streak of five, winning streak of four, and now a losing streak of three. Last night’s game was against the best team in the league and three of the Memphis’s last four games have been against the NBA’s top two teams, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors.
Memphis won the first quarter on Sunday, but did not win another quarter after that. There were eight ties and thirteen lead changes in the first half alone, but the Warriors were able to take the lead into halftime by two. The Grizzlies put up a strong third quarter tying the Dubs with 27 points in the period, but fell apart in the fourth. With five minutes to go the Warriors went up by ten and the Grizz never recovered.
Golden State shot 54% on Sunday night. Sure, it is the Warriors, they shoot 50% every night (49.3% on the season), but the Grizzlies are supposed to cause offenses to struggle. The Dubs took 31 threes and shot 55% from deep. Its tough to beat anyone allowing over 50% shooting from the field and three-point land. The Grizzlies did get 11 steals, but had zero blocks and lost the rebound battle. That is rare for a Grizzlies team and has been the reason for the inconsistency this season.
A common theme in losses this season has been the magic number of 100. With the exception of the two previous losses in the current losing streak, the Grizz lose when they give up 100 points. I recently wrote about the reinvented Grizzly offense, but they still aren’t known to dominate teams. In other words, the Grizzlies need to stay solid on the defensive end to win. There isn’t just one weakness that stands out when thinking of the whole season, but in this game it was the bigs that needed to step up. You simply can’t lose the rebound battle to a smaller team, and you definitely can’t have zero blocks against a guard-heavy offense.
I mentioned the last three streaks that the Grizz have been on. Just when it seems that the team is figuring out their identity, they lose multiple games in a row. They play out of their minds against the league’s best teams, but seem to falter against the bottom 10%. That inconsistency is going to be a problem in the playoffs if it isn’t resolved, and more immediately, it will cost the Grizz a higher playoff seed.
They have had consistent play from Mike Conley, he has been a leader on both ends of the court. He had 29 points against Golden State Sunday night, but had little help from anyone else. Zach Randolph contributes his 15-ish points a game (15 against the Warriors), but everyone else has been spotty at best. Marc Gasol didn’t play against Golden State, but lately we haven’t known what to expect from him either. The inconsistency in players has caused an inconsistency in overall team play. If the Grizzlies want to make a strong push for playoff seeding and against a playoff opponent, they have to find an identity and stick with it.
I’m not one to question coaching, I know these NBA coaches get paid millions because they are good at what they do. I’m just a lowly ex-high school player that knows a few X’s and O’s. But Coach Fizdale needs to figure out what direction he wants this team to go. There is no reason the Grizzlies should beat the NBA’s best and lose to the NBA’s worst. Fizdale doesn’t seem to be getting the most out of his players on a regular basis, and that is an issue that has to be addressed.
I get it, Fizdale is in his first season as a head coach and with a new culture in Memphis. But we are 73 games into the season and the Grizzlies are by far the most inconsistent team in the league. That is not an adjective you want to be owning at this point in the season. I’m a fan of Fizdale, I can get behind the MemFizz mantra, but I need to see more from him. I haven’t missed many games this season and I still can’t figure out his rotation strategies or his defensive preferences. I trust him with the future of this team, but as a fan right now, I want to see this team find a groove going into the playoffs.
Looking forward, the Grizzlies have a pretty easy schedule for the last nine games. They play one game in San Antonio and host Oklahoma City at home, but the other seven should be cake walks. As tough as the last three games have been (all on the road), the future looks promising for the next two weeks. Let’s hope the Grizz figure it out on the home stretch of the season.