By: Christian Dudley (@ChristianDudley)
After an awful second half performance in Game 1, losing 82-111, the Memphis Grizzlies have lots of improvements to make just to compete with the San Antonio Spurs. What moves are the most critical?
Now is the time for Head Coach David Fizdale to rally all his guys, all his troops. Major adjustments are a must if the Grizzlies want to have any shot at taking down the San Antonio Spurs in Monday's Game 2.
The Memphis Grizzlies' Game 1 performance -- if worthy of being described as such -- was a total embarrassment. Having lost by 29 points, it was by far the worst team showing of any playoff-bound roster thus far in the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
These are some of their glaring issues which caused them to play uncharacteristically from their previous four meetings with the Spurs in the regular season. Will they make these changes to enhance their chances in the series?
Change or Shorten the Rotation
Memphis gave 19 minutes to Andrew Harrison and 20 minutes to James Ennis III in Game 1. Both guys contributed a total of 12 points and combined to be a -47 on the night.
The game went downhill very quickly when Harrison and Ennis III were on the floor. It is not completely their faults, but Harrison has had difficulties all season long and Ennis III has been trending downward for the last two-thirds of the season. Now is time to nip it in the bud.
One move could be to play Wade Baldwin IV a few minutes to see if he is able to create more flow for the Grizzlies than Harrison did in Game 1. Baldwin IV is raw just like Andrew Harrison, but he may be able to provide enough speed, court vision, and confidence to keep the Grizz in the game when Mike Conley checks out for a breather.
For the minutes Ennis III received, adding a few to Wayne Selden's plate may not be a terrible thing. Selden was a -1 overall in Game 1 in 26 minutes, which is actually great for the overall individual performances given by the Grizzlies. His shooting has been off since Day One with the Grizz, but he does things to give Memphis an edge: play-make, slash, defend, dive after loose balls and hustle.
This goes a long way for Selden being as the Grizzlies really lacked team effort in their Game 1 loss.
Another option for the team to consider is utilizing Vince Carter as a point-forward when Mike Conley checks out of the game. Vince has done this plenty of times, and may be the move that keeps Memphis in the game when Mac-11 sits. Otherwise, Conley may very well have to play 46 of 48 minutes every night just to keep the Grizzlies in the ball game.
If Vinsanity would slide into a point-forward role in the remainder of the series, JaMychal Green could play some small forward minutes. He has done so in the past in a Grizzly uniform, and this would also open up playing time in the frontcourt for Brandan Wright.
Rotation Changes Translating into Defensive Awareness
Brandan Wright adds an extra dimension to the Grizz on both ends of the floor. Though he can clean up in the paint on offense, his best attributes can be seen on the defensive end. A sub-topic to this is for the Grizzlies to allow their defense to transition into offense, and playing Wright much more than five minutes will allow this to come to fruition.
The San Antonio Spurs shot 53.2% from the field in Game 1, and the Grizzlies will not beat any playoff team if they allow their opponent to shoot over 50%.
Though the Spurs shot 10/19 (52.6%) from beyond the arc, Wright could control the paint defensively, allowing the Grizzlies' wings to stay home along the perimeter. If the Spurs get hot from deep early on, it is typically game-over for their opponent. Down Tony Allen, Memphis is already at a disadvantage when it comes to running Spurs off the arc.
Find Sustainability in the Third Quarter
The Memphis Grizzlies have had issues with the third quarter all season long. Game 1 was no different, trailing by just three points at the half and entering the fourth quarter down by 20 points at 64-84.
Mike Conley, after posting an 11-point first quarter, as did Marc Gasol, scored just two additional points the remainder of the contest. Midway through the third quarter, the Grizzlies' bench had only scored two points.
Some things are unacceptable. Memphis will not have a realistic opportunity at winning any games in this series if they cannot shore up some of these deficiencies which they did not display in the four regular season meetings against San Antonio.
It seems as if only one Grizz player showed up to play the Spurs in Game 1. Unfortunately, it always takes a full team effort to compete with Gregg Popovich's Spurs.
Continue to Feed Big Spain
Marc Gasol was tremendous for Memphis and was truly the only positive from their Game 1 loss. He scored 32 points in 33 minutes on 11/18 shooting to go with five boards, two assists, and two blocks. He was also white hot from the three-point line, going 3/3 from range.
After being in a bit of a slump to end the regular season, Gasol showed up and showed out versus his brother, Pau. Scoring in a variety of ways, Marc was showing why he is a top center in the NBA.
Big Spain must continue to get the ball to create for himself or his teammates. If he can get some decent help in Game 2, the Grizzlies will have an excellent shot at tying the series and stealing the road victory.