It’s been over a week since we’ve had an edition of The Grind. Actual work duties kept me from writing last Monday and a lack of internet connection kept me away Friday. With the way the Grizz played during that stretch, I’m sure the articles would have been filled with lots of snark, several f-bombs, and shots at Lionel Hollins (My actual idea for Friday’s edition was going to be “I decided to put as much effort into this blog post as the Grizzlies have put into their last two games” and leave the rest of the post blank). But two nice wins over the weekend has me in a better mood so here we go…
Friday v. Houston- Even though Memphis held a 61-53 lead after the first half, some troubling signs from the previous two games remained. If this is supposed to be one of the best defensive teams in the league, where the hell has it gone? They’d given up 100 points in the 3 straight games, all to Eastern Conference teams that range from mediocre to down-right shitty. And now they’re on track to give up 100 yet again. Then the 2nd half started. In the final 24 minutes, the Rockets only managed 41 points including a 16 point 3rd quarter where the Grizz held them to 5-15 shooting and forced 5 turnovers. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were dominant in the paint, combining for 42 points and 17 rebounds (12 from Z-Bo). Tony Allen contributed 16 points to go along with his stifling defense (holding James Harden to 7 points on 3-9 shooting) and Mike Conley added 15 points and 10 assists. But the Man of the Match for the Grizzlies actually goes to Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who benched all of his starters in the 4th quarter in order to rest them for a game the following night at home against the Clippers…that they won. So nice work there, Coach McHale.
Saturday @ Minnesota- Similar to Friday’s game, the Grizzlies started out poorly on the defensive end once again giving up 50 points in the opening half. They looked a step slow and couldn’t keep Minnesota out of the paint until they locked things up and went on a 13-2 run to end the second quarter. The defensive intensity continued in the 3rd where Minnesota was held to 17 points. Then the 4th quarter started and the Grizzlies assault went into overdrive. Darrell Arthur score 9 points in a 16-2 Memphis run to start the 4th. Gasol (21-8-6) and Conley (19 points, 4 assists) were once again two of the main driving forces in the win but it was refreshing to see some much improved bench play. The Grizz reserves put up a combined 34 points, led by Arthur who finished with 15 (12 coming in the 4th). While Bayless only scored 4, Memphis was +16 in the 29 minutes he was on the floor.
Tweet of the Weekend Not from @HydeParkSwag
I’m actually kind of pissed I didn’t come up with this on my own.
@hpbasketball Gasol +ZBo celebrity nickname is definitely Gazebo— owen marble (@NugzNazty) March 29, 2013
Grizzlies Article of the Weekend Not from This Website
Kevin Soppe of Hardwood Paroxysm wrote a great statistical breakdown of the Grizzlies-Rockets game. You can check that out here.
Tweet of the Weekend from @HydeParkSwag
Would it be racist to point out that the only Rockets fan I've seen is of course Asian?— Hyde Park Swag (@HydeParkSwag) March 29, 2013
A Look at the Standings
The NBA is needlessly complicated. Because of NBA rules saying division winners can finish no further that 4th, the Grizzlies are in 5th place even though they are a half-game ahead of the Clippers record wise. However, if the playoffs were to start today, Memphis would have home court advantage. So the Grizzlies are 5th but get all the perks of being the 4 seed. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the rule to say a division winner can finish no worse than 5th? Denver is still only a half-game ahead of Memphis for the 3 seed as well.
The Week Ahead
Monday v. San Antonio- Since they’re stunning win over the Spurs in the 2011 playoffs, the Spurs have pretty much had the Grizzlies number, winning the last 6 of 7. However, the matchups nearly always go down to the wire. Two of the teams’ three previous games have gone to overtime, both teams winning one. San Antonio is on the 2nd half of a back-to-back following an 88-86 home loss to the Heat (without James and Wade) but they haven’t lost back to back games since mid-December. Manu Ginobli is expected to miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury. The key to this one is keeping Tony Parker out of the lane as much as possible and defend the corner 3.
Wednesday @ Portland- It feels like the Grizzlies have played Portland about 5 times the past month. The Grizzlies have won 2 of the 3 games with Portland this season, both wins coming without Zach Randolph. Since Tony Allen has murdered Wesley Matthews and thrown his corpse in the Wolf River, the matchups to watch are Aldridge v. Gasol and Lillard v. Conley. Winning in Portland is always tough. The Rose Garden is a great atmosphere and the Grizz players have to keep their head on a swivel to avoid getting punched in the dick by Nicolas Batum.
-With a win Monday night, Memphis would set the franchise record for consecutive home wins at 12. The Grizzlies have a 29-8 record at home this season, good for 5th in the NBA, and are holding opponents to a league-low 87.5 points per game.
-Saturday's win over the Timberwolves was the Grizzlies' franchise-record 20th road win. Memphis is 20-16 on the road this season.
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