The bag of tricks Lionel Hollins has for his Memphis Grizzlies offense is empty. Mike Conley isn’t good enough to win games simply through scoring, while the more traditional and successful (until the conference finals) of offensive solutions; giving the ball to Marc Gasol as the pivot and Zach Randolph at the post up have simply stopped working.
The result? The Grizzlies lost 104-93 to the San Antonio Spurs in game 3 despite holding an early 18 point lead, falling once again in overtime, and are now on the verge of getting swept by a team they thought they should have an easier time dominating thanks to their physical strength in the paint and their fantastic, All-NBA type defense.
But life is a little bit more complicated, and managing an NBA game, let alone series, requires more than drawing out one initial plan and trying, headstrong, to see it through. The Grizzlies have slowly ventured away from the post-up because Randolph has no longer been able to work it successfully. He’s not getting the ball where he’s most effective thanks to the fantastic job by Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, leading to the Grizzlies scoring only 0.54 points per possession through post-up plays.
Compare that to the rest of the playoffs, when the post-up was the bread & butter for the Grizzlies, who have to resort to a lot of pick & roll and looking for open shots through lumbering and often too slow ball movement. Once the turnovers stopped going in their favor as the Spurs came out of that half-coma they were in through the first 12 minutes, the Grizzlies seemed puzzled as to how and put the ball in the basket for the rest of the game.
As the series extends and the game drew longer, it looked like both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, without a real option to fill in for them and put in productive minutes, unlike what the Spurs had in Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner up to this point, at least on offense, are running out of gas for both their bodies and their minds. They both did an excellent job on the offensive glass, as the Grizzlies grabbed a total of 19 offensive rebounds.
But when they’re shooting 39.2% from the field and allowing the Spurs another night of better than 50%, all the effort on the offensive glass in the world isn’t going to help.
We’ve been fortunate to get this far, and we’ve got to play better if we want to continue. We have had chances to win each of these games. This was a tough one to swallow, but it was a good learning lesson. There’s no group of guys I’d rather be with down 3-0 to try to fight back in it.
Sounds like people trying to convince themselves of the impossible and improbable. Unless the Grizzlies start doing something different on offense, which is somehow creating mismatches for Randolph and Gasol and overall making some sort of adjustment to try and save the day, the season is practically over.
Looking at their options on the bench and the bodywork of their head coach, their chances of finding an answer in the next couple of days are close to zero.