The Memphis Grizzlies are on summer vacation. But before we say goodbye to this playoff series, we at GBB want to put a bow on this postseason. There is plenty of time to talk draft, free agency, and what comes next, but for now, let’s remember what was.
Participating in the roundtable with me are GBB Game Coverage Editor Grace Baker, GBB Features Writer McCarty Maxwell, and GBB Game Coverage Writer Ross Jarrar.
The Grizzlies wound up losing to the Spurs in six, just as GBB predicted. Was the series a success?
Grace Baker (@GraceBaker901) - In certain ways, I consider this series a success. "Take That For Data" was born, and we got that classic Game 4 showdown in FedExForum. The Grizzlies pushed the series to six games, but they lost in a disappointing ending at home. I would've been more content if the Grizzlies had extended the series to seven games, because I didn't want the Grizzlies to lose at home in Game 6. Without Tony Allen or Chandler Parsons, the Grizzlies were already at a disadvantage, so it was inspiring to watch them extend it to 6.
However, it was still a let down to watch them go out in the first round after so much hype before the season even started...it felt like an underwhelming end to a season that should have been better.
Ross Jarrar (@asaprockytop) - The series was definitely a success. This Spurs team has been a juggernaut the last 2 seasons and if it weren't for the Warriors, they would be the prohibitive favorite to make it out of the West. The Grizzlies would have been outmatched at full strength, yet they still won 2 games and were competitive without their 2 starting wings, Tony Allen and Chandler Parsons. Parsons' injury was a long time ago and the Grizzlies have had time to adjust. But TA was injured on the final night of the regular season and our best chance at slowing/stopping Kawhi Leonard went away with him.
The Grizzlies had every reason to pack up their things and accept the sweep, but they fought hard. They won games that they shouldn't have, which is the Memphis Grizzliest thing possible.
What was one positive and one negative from the series?
JOE MULLINAX (@JoeMullinax) - Mike Conley is the overwhelming positive. His play over the past couple of months has been spectacular, and under the bright lights of the playoffs he shined even brighter. He did not wilt under the pressure, but rose to what Memphis needed him to be. On the flip side, Marc Gasol has to be the negative. He did not attempt a field goal in the fourth quarter of Game 6 and seemed to regress at points in the series to what he was before this career-best season...
Someone who didn’t want to shoot. Memphis needs both Marc AND Mike to be successful as a team. Only having them both thrive in one game (Game 3) was a bit of a bummer.
MCCARTY MAXWELL (@McCartyMaxwell) - One positive that I think can't be understated is Coach Fizdales's leadership. For me personally, I was questioning his decision making much of the season. He didn't seem to get the most out of his players and struggled to make tough decisions. But he proved himself as an elite coach in this series. He knew what he had to do to motivate his players, drew up solid schemes, and worked hard to even this series.
One negative is that Marc Gasol’s inconsistency resurfaced. He played well in moments, but struggled mightily in others. There were times when he seemed too passive, played a little scared, and just wasn't himself. He’s arguably the best center in the league, but he just forgets to play like it every now and then.
How much blame, if any, does Marc Gasol deserve for the outcome of the playoffs?
BAKER - Marc Gasol is not completely to blame for the Grizzlies losing this playoff series, but he did have a part in it. As a leader on this team, he has to take a lot of responsibility. In Games 4, 5, and 6, Gasol didn't even hit 20 points. His performances were a bit underwhelming as the series went on after performing well in the first few games. Especially in Game 6, I felt Gasol needed to take over and help out Mike Conley, because he can't carry the team alone. We've all seen Marc go off offensively, and I feel like he didn't do it enough in this series. As I've said before, Marc can't just have good numbers. He has to have great numbers for Memphis to succeed.
He needs to be aggressive consistently rather than just when Mike Conley is having an off night.
JARRAR - Some of the blame needs to fall on Marc Gasol, but he's definitely not the biggest reason the Grizzlies lost. Marc famously hit the buzzer beater to win Game 4, but he also had 7 turnovers in that game. He was really sloppy with the ball and quite honestly had a mediocre game. But he pulled through when it counts, and suddenly it all canceled out. Mike Conley carried this team as much as he could - he was truly phenomenal - but Memphis needed as much help from Gasol as possible and he was just...fine. To pull off an upset, you need some of your players to play above their means and over-perform.
Conley certainly did, but an extra scoring punch from Gasol could have forced the series to 7 or actually have led to a Grizzlies series win.
Did David Fizdale do everything he could to get Memphis to compete with the Spurs?
MULLINAX - I believe so. He was a rookie head coach going against one of the best of all time in Gregg Popovich, and he was taking on the mighty Spurs machine without his two starting wings. In the face of that, he found a way to rally not just his team behind him, but an entire city, and create a memorable moment for this era of Grizzlies basketball to possibly end with. Memphis was never expected to defeat the Spurs - the hope was for a competitive series filled with memories and opportunities for the Grizzlies to be in the series. That happened. Coach Fizdale gets an A from me.
MAXWELL - Well I mentioned this above, but I believe he did. The Spurs are a tough match for any team. Most people that know anything about NBA basketball did not have Memphis winning two games in this series. So I think he did a great job motivating and scheming to compete with San Antonio. The first two losses were anomalies, but the other four games were all competitive like they should be. Fizdale matured along with this team throughout this series and proved to me that he is worth keeping in the organization. I like him as the leader moving forward.