The team’s positives include the strength and mid-range shooting of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph; Tony Allen’s adhesive defense and ability to score in the shadow of the hoop; Mike Conley’s outside shooting, lane penetrations, and quick-footed defense; Darrell Arthur’s pivotal scoring and mid-range jumpers; and Rudy Gay’s creativity.
Still, the Grizzlies have multiple flaws.
Their bigs are so late in making the proper rotations that San Antonio’s dive cuts resulted in numerous uncontested layups. Likewise, Gasol and Randolph are inordinately slow getting back in transition defense—allowing both Duncan and Splitter to beat them to the rim on several occasions.
The Spurs alert double-teams virtually negated Randolph’s presence in the low post—for the game he scored only five of his 11 points down there.
Gasol failed to get a single opportunity to venture into the low-post, confining his offense to taking jumpers and setting picks—both of which he did well. Still, his interior scoring was (and has been) wasted.
Although Rudy Gay is the only wingman who can consistently create his own shot, both his passwork and the decisions he routinely makes on defense are abysmal.
Neither Conley nor his backup, Jerryd Bayless, are bona fide facilitating point guards. This is a serious team deficiency.
Off the bench, Arthur’s post-up defense is subpar; Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights are talented but extremely erratic.
Forget about the numbers.
The Grizzlies’ passing and pick-and-roll defense are simply not championship caliber. In a playoff showdown with either the Spurs, the Clippers or the Thunder, the Grizzlies will prove to be toothless.
Charley Rosen is an American author and former basketball coach. From 1983–1986, he was an assistant to Phil Jackson with the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association. He also served as head coach of the Patroons, as well as the CBA’s Rockford Lightning, Oklahoma City Cavalry and Savannah Spirits. A native of The Bronx, N.Y., the 71-year-old Rosen is the author of 16 books about basketball. He is known for his in-depth analysis and caustic views.