Game 2 of the conference semifinals in both the West and East picks up tonight, as the Golden State Warriors try to go two games up on the Memphis Grizzlies, while the Atlanta Hawks trying to avoid losing twice at home to the Washington Wizards.
The Warriors outplayed the Grizzlies in about every parameter in game 1, and it might all be coming down to Mike Conley playing or not, although the Warriors are better with or without him. Conley has an eye injury, still swollen from an elbow he took to the face in the series against the Blazers. While the Grizzlies have a decent set of backup point guards, not having Conley takes away so much from the team.
The Warriors led by 20 points in the third quarter before settling for a 101-86 win in game 1. Not having Conley to worry about, they had a lot of open shots around the perimeter, making 46.4% of their 3-point shots. Tony Allen played 39 minutes, but he can’t run up and down the floor trying to make up for the holes his teammates create, which is something he doesn’t have to worry about when Conley plays.
The Warriors jammed up the middle, not having to worry too much about long range shooting. Zach Randolph and Pau Gasol got trapped in the sea of bodies and hands and without Conley to play the pick and roll or catch and shoot with, the Grizzlies gave up on the 3-ball (shooting just 12 times) and simply stuck to attacking through the paint, which meant falling right into the hands and plans of the Warriors.
What can change for Memphis? It has to come from Jeff Green and maybe Vince Carter. The Grizzlies need someone to stretch the floor and at this point, even if it does hurt their defense a bit, Joerger has to think about offense. Conley might be back and might not be, but it won’t matter until the Grizzlies start putting some fear in the Warriors of 3-point baskets. Without that, there’s no hope of even making this series slightly difficult.
Wizards vs Hawks
For very few moments in these playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks have been able to play the kind of basketball they found so easy to tap into during the regular season. Their first quarter against the Wizards in game 1 looked that way with the ball moving quickly and bodies not standing around. The rest of the way? Not too great, as the Hawks lost 104-98, losing home court advantage.
The Wizards did their part. They play a slowed down pace, although within it there’s a lot of quickness and elusiveness from John Wall. Wall didn’t shoot very well (8-of-19) and he never does, but the Hawks found it very hard to contain him or lead him into uncomfortable positions. He scored 18 points. Jeff Teague had 11 on a bad shooting night as well. The Wizards didn’t shoot well, but didn’t turn the ball over, and didn’t give the Hawks and opportunity to run the floor like in the first quarter.
One thing that’s a problem for the Hawks is playing without Thabo Sefolosha. It has messed up their entire second unit and overall rotation. While their entire starting lineup played at least 30 minutes, they spent only 18 minutes on the floor together, during which they outplayed the Wizards with ease. It’s going to take a special effort to beat a very confident group that doesn’t mind doing it on the road, which means maybe giving his starting lineup more time on the floor, and keeping the first and second unit as separate as possible.