Friday, November 24, 2006

Grizz defeat Wizards

I was able to watch the Grizz 95-80 victory over the Washington Wizards tonight.

Here are some of my thoughts:

First, the good:

Hakim Warrick was really aggressive in the paint. He demonstrated a variety of moves. Hopefully he can become consistent enough to be the Grizzlies' #2 go-to guy behind Pau. Having two guys who can both maneuver in the paint against big bodies, and get to the whole from the free throw line will make the Grizz a tough team, especially with the outside shooters waiting for the kick out.

In addition, the two point guards, Atkins and Stoudemire, were able to score throughout the game both by creating their own shots (Other Grizzlies save Warrick weren't able to do this.) and by hitting the open shot in half court sets. Atkins in particular displayed an explosiveness, getting to the rim easily as he's done in previous game. He's preventing Fratello from second-guessing inserting him in the starting line-up.

Finally, our role players made solid contributions. Notably, Cardinal picked up from where he left off in the last game, hitting the outside shot. Also, D Jones followed up with another strong performance at both ends after playing terribly earlier in the season.

On the downside, Swift still looks a step behind, even against the likes of Etan Thomas and Brenden Haywood. He isn't the strong defensive shot blocker that I hoped would return from Houston. That said, he looks like he has the desire. He jumps at every shot and takes the ball to the front of the rim. He just can't quite get the block and can't finish around the rim.

Second, Warrick played only 32 minutes, 2.5 minutes more than Swift and 12 minutes fewer than Miller. Fratello seems set on keeping his rotation set instead of allowing Warrick and Atkins to play when they're dominating the game. I can't help but think that Warrick and Atkins would've put up All Star numbers if they had played All Star minutes instead of 6th man minutes. Perhaps, Fratello knows something about their conditioning or the teams chemistry that I don't, but on the surface it seems that those players deserve more time when their having games like Friday nights'.

Miller, on the other hand, (with the exception of his impressive three point shooting) is barely putting up better numbers than when he played 7 minutes fewer last season. Tonight, he matched last years' statistical output but needed 13 more minutes to do it. Furthermore, he looked terrible during several defensive sets, and allowed DeShawn Stevenson to double his point average. He did have a few impressive finished around the rim, but still relied heavily on being set up for an open look from outside (where he is consistent and effective).

Finally, I wish Gay's offense would come together. Like Swift, he's aggressive, and he's attacking defenses in a number of different ways. However, he's still not finishing consistently. Tonight, he demonstrated a number of difficult shots, which he converted, but still shot a poor percentage.

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