Saturday, November 29, 2008

Post Game Thoughts on the Grizzlies Loss to the Thunder

Embarrassing is too nice a word to describe what transpired tonight.

The Grizzlies must be worried that the Thunder are going to have more ping pong balls next summer.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Post Game Thoughts on the Grizzlies Loss to the Spurs

I liked the way the Grizzlies looked tonight against the Spurs. They lost, but they kept it close despite relentless attempts by the more talented Spurs to put them away.

Also, I have to give credit to Darko Milicic and Mike Conley. If each player can play like they did against the Spurs consistently, they'll be solid players for the Grizzlies.

I appreciated that Coach Marc Iavaroni kept Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo in the game for extended minutes instead of going with the regular rotation. The bench looked pretty bad, and Mayo and Gay kept the team in the game.

Finally, one last note: OJ Mayo will score 40+ in a game this season.  Watch for it. It will happen.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Time to Give Thanks

How bad would the Grizzlies be if we had Mike Miller and Kevin Love instead of OJ Mayo?

Give thanks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Milsap Scores 24 as Utah Practices for the Dunk Contest.

I think the Grizzlies read my blog and decided they'd use it as a guide for their performance against Utah. 

Here's a recap of my most recent post with updated thoughts from tonight's embarrassment.

1. Fire Iavaroni

The Grizzlies looked lost on both offense and defense. One of the most telling sequences came after a time out in the 2nd half, when the Grizzlies struggled to run a set, and gave the ball up to a Utah steal that resulted in an uncontested breakaway dunk.

2. 'Starbury' Milicic

The Grizzlies interior defense was a joke. Though it wasn't entirely Milicic's fault, the center was a liability on both ends of the court. He certainly couldn't guard Milsap or Okur. 

I cannot fathom how Ron Tillery or Marc Iavaroni can refer to Milicic as a defensive specialist. 

You've got to be kidding me. An elite defender? Consistent rebounding? Darko played 18 minutes and pulled down 2 rebounds in a game where the Grizzlies were out-rebounded 44-30. 

The only times he wasn't getting dunked on was when he was so far out of position that he wasn't close enough to the basket to be dunked on. 

He wasn't the only player missing his assignment, but to call Milicic an elite anything is ridiculous. 

3. Trade for a shooter and move OJ Mayo to point guard.

Mayo was dominant with the ball in his hands for stretches. Lowry already gives it up to him whenever he's in the game. And both Lowry and Conley struggle to find consistency. Let's at least give Crittenton a look wat 2 with Mayo at the point.

4. The Grizzlies make average players look like All Stars.

Utah didn't need Boozer, and Williams eased his way back from an injury. That's because the Grizzlies were satisfied with perfromances from Paul Milsap and Ronnie Brewer that were among the best performances either has had in his short NBA career.

Not only did they have about 10 combined dunks (Okay I pulled that number out of my ass.), but both also tied season highs in points scored. (By the way, Brewer's previous season high was - you guessed it - 21 points against the Grizzlies.)

Milsap also increased his season high rebound total from 10 to 16. That is a 60% increase for those of you keeping score. 

Happy Thanksgiving from David Loves the Grizzlies.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back To Reality

The Grizzlies are back to being the Grizzlies. When the Grizzlies lost to a Tony Parker-less Spurs team last night, it confirmed what anyone with a brain knew 2 weeks ago: the early season success was a fluke.

Here are a few key strategies the Grizzlies should employ to turn things around. 

1. Fire Coach Marc Iavaroni.

He seems like a really smart, reasonable guy who is a hard worker. He's also lost a lot of games, including many close games, and he's been doing it for over a year. You don't lose with such consistency for this long and keep your job in the NBA. 

With this young team, a success would be getting these players to over achieve. Iavaroni has not done that. The Grizzlies have not only lost close games, they've also been blown out by mediocre teams and teams missing their best players. 

This is not a playoff team with any coach, but there's someone out there who can get more from the group, and I haven't seen any games where I thought, "Gee, this is good coaching."

2. "Starbury" Darko.

Remember when Al Gore gave a speech at Columbia University about Global Warming on the coldest day of the year a while back? I'm going to do the same thing and call for the Grizzlies to permanently bench Darko after his best game of the year.

As a Grizzly, Darko has proved to be good for one thing: guarding Tim Duncan and a handful of players like him. It's not worth it. It's time to move on. Bench him. Waive him. Or trade him.

3. Trade for a shooter and move OJ Mayo to starting point guard. Inevitably, either Conley or Lowry will have to be traded. The Grizzlies can make do with either in a back up role. However, Mayo has proven to be the best and only play maker of the back court.

Mayo is the best because, unlike the other point guards, when he penetrates, he actually finds his teammates or scores the basketball. Lowry scores occasionally, and Conley finds teammates occasionally, but neither does both with any consistency, and by the way, mostly they just stand at the three point line and pass the ball to Mayo.

Therefore, package one or two of them and any body else not named Mayo, Gay, or Gasol, and get a bonafide shooter. 

4. There's one more problem that needs to be solved, but I can't quite pinpoint it. It's related to making Roger Mason, Wilson Chandler, and Luc Mbah a Moute into all stars. 

These guys should not be scoring close to 20 points, especially not in the FedEx Forum. 

The Grizzlies have to stop allowing this. It is embarrassing. I'm not sure if it's a new defensive philosophy, added personnel, or a swift smack in the face, but the Grizzlies should set a goal from here on out. No one who averages less than 10 should score more than 20. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

OJ Mayo

It's easy to focus on the negative. And there are definitely reasons to be worried about Mike Conley. Furthermore, any optimism a Grizzlies fan might have should be tempered. After all, the we're only eight games into the season, and the Grizzlies are two games under .500.

With that said, the Grizzlies are doing their best to turn this blogger into a believer, and it starts with OJ Mayo.

OJ Mayo has been fantastic so far. He's played like someone in his eighth season, not his eighth game.

If Chris Wallace and Michael Heisley haven't been right about anything in their entire lives, they're right about one thing: This team is worth watching.

If I was in Memphis, I think I would try to get tickets to the Knicks game on Wednesday.

Since I'm stuck in the Bay Area, I'll check in on the campaign to fire Kevin McHale. The Fire-McHale-O-Meter is indicating a status of "Nervous, but it's still early":

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Grizzlies Looking Better Than Expected

The Grizzlies looked better tonight in a loss to the Denver Nuggets than they did Friday night beating the Warriors.

They ddin't look like a team with three rookies starting, and they didn't look like a team that's comfortable coasting to the lottery.

In the first three quarters against the veteran  Nuggets in Denver, the Grizzlies looked like the team in control. 

It will be interesting to see if they can maintain their poise against an even more experienced and talented Phoenix team tomorrow. After that test, the Grizzlies have three winnable games at home. Just two weeks ago, I wouldn't have referred to any three games on the Grizzlies' entire schedule as winnable.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Grizzlies Remain Undefeated Against the Warriors

As I was sitting in Oracle Arena, I promised myself that I wouldn't be too negative if the Grizzlies won the game. After all, I've always tried to measure the Grizzlies by their ability to win more than anything else. And the Grizzlies won the game!

Therefore, I will only mention the Grizzlies' deficiencies briefy. 

First, they should run some plays that aren't isolations. Second, Conley passes when he should shoot.

Third: Darko. The Grizzlies should waive him. Don't even bother trading him. He was playing so terribly that the turning point of the game was his ejection after 12 minutes in the game. That's when Iavaroni was forced to give his minutes to Arthur and Warrick who were quite good.

Also, there were at least two times when no-dunk-Darko was above the rim with the ball, and instead of dunking, like any normal seven footer would, he dropped the ball through the hoop or flipped it in.

That's enough of that for now. The Grizzlies won the game: 

First, Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo are not only extremely talented scorers who can create their own shot, they also have the right attitude. In the third quarter, Gay became angry as the Warriors were making a run due in part to careless turnovers from the Grizzlies. His demeanor changed almost in an instant and he started playing aggressively drawing fouls and converting free throws. It reminded me of Pau Gasol on opposite day.

Second: Hakim Warrick. Unlike Darko, Warrick likes to dunk. He does it a lot, and he does it well. He does give up size on defense, and the Warriors, particularly Bedrins, punished the Grizzlies under the basket when Arther and Warrick we playing together. However, Warrick's athleticism and aggressive rebounding make up for his smaller size. 

Third and most important, the Grizzlies won. This is a team that wasn't supposed to win 20 of 82 games, and they have already won 3 of 6. They currently have a better record than San Antonio, Dallas, Denver, Portland, and Philadelphia. Think about that for just a minute - The Grizzlies are .5oo, and they have played more than 2 games. 

Furthermore, they are guaranteed to at least split the series with a Western Conference team. Many analysts projected the Grizzlies as the worst or second to worst team in the entire league, and they have a strong chance of winning the season series with a team that was over .500 last year.

This is the first time in a long time that I have gone to Grizzlies game with the feeling that they could win the game, and that is a welcome change.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Grizzlies Electing to Win for a Change

The early results suggest this year's Grizzlies are not only better than last year's 'team', but they're also fun to watch. 

They're fun to watch because, despite the expectations, they're winning. 

It is fun to have a team that's better than expected, and it's fun to cheer for a team that wins. 

With that said let's not declare victory until all the votes are in. We're only 4 games into the season, and there are still reasons to be concerned. The offense is incoherent at times. The team looks inexperienced at times, and Mike Conley has struggled or disappeared almost all the time.

With that said, there's reason to be optimistic. Marc Gasol is impressive, even when he's not putting up ridiculous numbers as he did against Golden State. Darrell Arthur and OJ Mayo don't look like rookies, even when they aren't playing at their best, and Rudy Gay has picked up where he left off. 

What stands out most about this team is its defense. Individually, Marc Gasol Kyle Lowry have stood out on defense. However, it also turns out that when you replace Darko, Miller, and Pau with Mayo, Arther, and Marc, your team defense and rebounding improves. Who knew?

I'm eager to see how our young team responds to two winnable games on the road this week against Sacramento and Golden State. I'll be attending Friday's game in person in Oakland. I never considered the possiblity that thr Grizzlies would be at or near .500 for their first trip to the Bay Area.

That is change I can believe in.