The Scouting Report: Memphis Grizzlies
Projected starting line-up: Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
It may have been clouded during the Blazers giving up oodles of transition buckets as they were in the midst of a late January slump but Memphis reemerged after the return of Marc Gasol.
Since January 14th when Gasol came back from a knee injury, the Grizzlies have had the second-best defense in the league and Gasol is also integral to their offense as well.
When speaking with Victor Claver about his experience with the national team, he called Marc Gasol a “big point guard,” which is exactly how the Grizzlies use his passing and size for their offense.
Gasol is killer from the foul line area where he can both drain a midrange jumper, hit cutters going to the rim with beautiful passes as well as dump down entry passes to Zach Randolph.
Gasol is how they get their money for the most part in the half court but Memphis’ motor is Mike Conley.
Conley dealt with injury for a few weeks which allowed rookie Nick Calathes to step in as a solid back-up point guard giving the Grizzlies one of their best options at that position in a while.
Calathes won the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for February while coming mostly off the bench. In February he averaged over 10 points, 4.6 assists and just over three rebounds a game.
Calathes still has things to iron out about his game but he’s shown an ability to take the ball to the basket and is shooting just well enough (31 percent) from three point range that you have to respect him.
Because of Phoenix’s loss last night against the Suns, the Grizzlies are now a half game up on the Suns for the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Blazers cannot afford to let Memphis get another big lead against them like they did in Portland in January. As we saw when Portland’s comeback attempts seemed moot against Memphis’ grind it out defense.
The Blazers offense as of late, especially later in games has struggled lately.
The Blazers are past the point of needing or getting good “tests.” Memphis’ D is real and Portland’s offensive issues have been real lately. The time for tests is over, this is where they have to make their money if they hope to salvage what’s left of this road trip.
It will be interesting to see how Portland attacks the Grizzlies.
In their most recent match-up against a defensive juggernaut they used a lot of Robin Lopez pick and rolls to take Roy Hibbert away from the rim against Indiana. Could we see Stotts use Lopez to do the same with defending Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol?
Either way, if Portland defends like they have been the past few weeks from the start they will have a chance to turn this trip around.