The date was February 15th, 2017. The Memphis Grizzlies were staring down an upcoming schedule that had pushovers like New Orleans, Phoenix, Dallas, and Brooklyn waiting in the wings. The four seed was firmly in sight.
That feels like a lifetime ago.
The Grizzlies laid an egg tonight against the Brooklyn Nets to slip to 2-5 in their last seven games and 36-28 on the year. Mike Conley showed up in a big way with 32 points on 9-15 shooting, but the rest of the Memphis Grizzlies seemed to sleepwalk through the much needed contest.
After an evenly contested first half that left the Grizzlies up by one, Memphis fans everywhere looked forward to an improved second half effort. Yet, the Grizzlies offense never looked settled. Outside of Mike Conley, it seemed like the Bears of Beale had no direction, no flow, and no level of comfort on offense.
A high scoring third quarter left the Grizzlies with a 3 point lead heading to the final frame, but the momentum could not be sustained for the Memphis Grizzlies. A paltry 18 point fourth quarter left the home team no chance to pull out the victory. Let’s break down how things went ary for the Grizzlies.
Reason 1: Lack of Offensive Balance
Mike Conley was crazy efficient once again. It only took him 15 shot attempts to reach 32 points. But he was the lone bright spot for Memphis tonight. Zach Randolph took 12 shots but didn't convert at a high rate. Marc Gasol only took 11 shots and was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night. No one else on the roster took more than 6 shots on the night.
Outside of Mike Conley, the Grizzlies didn’t have anyone establish any type of rhythm. This falls significantly on Gasol; he needs to understand his role within the offense is to score. Big Spain might be the best passer on the team, but the Grizzlies won’t win many games in which he only takes 11 shots. Yeah he scored 18 points, but I would like to see Gasol really demand the ball and look for his shot on a more consistent level.
Reason 2: Backcourt Disfunction
The Memphis Grizzlies backcourt is a mess. There is no getting around it. Mike Conley is Mike Conley, but outside of that - the team is pretty unsettled at the three backcourt spots. Chandler Parsons continues to improve. He’s headed towards being fully healthy. Patience will be rewarded here Grizzlies fans, just hang in there. Vince Carter is a consummate professional, and seems to find a way to contribute every night. James Ennis III hasn’t been playing lately. This is a major head scratcher. Troy Daniels is up and down, but more down lately. Aaron Harrison doesn’t look like an NBA rotation player, and Tony Douglas is being dared to shoot. It’s a crowded backcourt and the minutes fluctuate, which seems to impede any kind of flow for the Memphis offense.
Understand that this falls squarely on the shoulders of David Fizdale. If the Grizzlies want to have a sustained playoff push, these players have to understand what their roles are. They are professionals and they need to be ready to play no matter the situation. Granted, David Fizdale may be having these conversations behind closed doors, but it certainly appears that the backcourt situation is muddled at best. Let’s hope that the Grizzlies can get this thing ironed out before it’s too late!