Saying the Grizzlies did not start this series out well would be a complete understatement. Memphis was routed by San Antonio 111-82. The team started out the playoff on a negative note. As Marc Gasol had the game of his career, no one else stepped up to contend in this game. Everything clicked for the Grizzlies out of the gate, but in the second half, the Grizzlies were outscored 59-33. Memphis has to flush this game and come back Monday with a clear mind. Now, to team grades.
Mike Conley- C-
Conley’s night was a great metaphor for how the Grizzlies’ night went as a whole. He had 10 points in the first quarter, going 4-4, but after that, he went cold and only scored 3 in the other three quarters combined. He finished with 13 points on 5-14 shooting. Conley has the opportunity in this series to go against an aging Tony Parker, who last night did everything offensively against him, scoring 18 as well. The grade is this low because the playoff run depends on him and Marc to contribute everything they’ve got each game. Last night we just did not see the shots go down after the first quarter, and, as the result shows, that is unacceptable for playoff success.
Wayne Selden Jr.- C+
Look, this was a tough spot for Selden. It does not forgive the fact that he only scored five points in 27 minutes or the fact that I don’t know if he has ever hit a three-pointer in his life. However, this was his 15th NBA game and it was starting in the NBA Playoffs against the Spurs. He looked decent at times. His transition game around the rim is something special. Above all else, he is a rookie who was thrown into the mix because of an unfortunate injury. He gets a better grade than Conley because he is not as important to the team as Conley. But, in the long run, at least he isn’t Andrew Harrison.
Vince Carter- C-
In a mailbag at the beginning of the series, I said that Vince Carter was going to be one of the most important pieces to a possible upset. Marc and Mike will score, but it is the other guys who have to help push the Grizzlies over the top. Well, that definitely didn’t happen tonight. Carter scored 4 points in 28 minutes and only attempted one three. Yes, it is because Kawhi is a freak defensively, but with that kind of performance, look for it to be a quick series. Also, on the defensive side, Kawhi had his way dominating offensively, which is to be expected, but not 32 points. Vince has got to find a spark offensively or commit all the effort to stop Kawhi dominating the game.
JaMychal Green- D
Honestly, I don’t even know if JaMychal Green played last night. He hit an exciting three in the first quarter and then cashed it in for the rest of the night. Green ended up only playing 15 minutes as Coach Fizdale was doing everything he could to get Zach Randolph going. While he was on the court, he only managed to get one rebound. That is inexcusable from a power forward even if he plays outside and may be undersized. He needs to get in the paint and contribute on the glass if his shot isn’t working that night.
Marc Gasol- B+
Then, there was Marc. Marc Gasol played like a man on a mission. He was the only player on this team who did not vanish after the first quarter. When the Grizzlies were at the 64 point mark, Gasol had 32 of those points and the rest of the team had the other 32 combined. It was all Gasol last night. He ended up with 32 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. He brought it offensively and defensively also adding two blocks to his stat line. Even though it was a pounding, Marc looked good tonight. Let us just hope he can come out like he did come Monday night as well.
The Bench- F
Here lies the biggest problem of last night. Without the last 7 minutes of garbage time inflating their points up a bit (especially Andrew Harrison), the bench only contributed 11 points. The Spurs absolutely won the second team battles at the end of quarters. This got them back in the game at the end of the first and changed the pace of the game whenever Conley or Gasol was benched. Z-Bo and Troy Daniels could not find any offense and the team suffered greatly. Z-Bo, James Ennis III, Troy Daniels, and Andrew Harrison’s +/- was -39, -28, -29, and -19, respectively.
One game +/- stats do not really capture the game that well unless it is something this ugly. Without going off on a rant, the Grizzlies need to solve their backup point guard position. Andrew Harrison is not the answer. Only positive is that he can shoot above average. His defense on pick and rolls last night was disastrous. Coach Pop keyed in on that and kept pounding away when he was on the floor. That will be the biggest offseason need.
So we don’t end on such a negative note, the Grizzlies are not out of the series just yet. This was one game in a long series. It was the same as losing the game close on the wins and loss record. If the team can erase this from their memory and get back out there Monday night, maybe, just maybe the Grizzlies can steal one in San Antonio to even the series at one game apiece.