The Spurs are too strong, the Lakers too experienced, and the Grizzlies...an enigma. In my reflection of last night's loss, I'm trying to give what I see in that team some context. In a way, they remind me a great deal of the old 80's and 90's Georgetown Hoya teams, led by John Thompson. On the surface it doesn't seem like they have a ton of talent. Yet over the course of the game, they play an aggressive, physical style that minimizes their weaknesses (no outside shooting to speak of) and taking away the other team's (Thunder's) strengths. I don't know if there are enough games left for the Grizz to make a run at the five spot in the playoffs, but it will make me nervous the closer they get.
Recap coming later today
Mayberry's post-game nuggets, where he talks about Russell Westbrook's continued development as a point guard and the team's struggles against the Grizz. When you play against a team that plays conservative and does not take a lot of risks, it becomes all the more important for your team leaders to understand that wasted plays become the death knell.
Young writes about the continued struggle against the Grizzlies, pointing out that they have been short-handed every time the teams have played. Much will be made about the early deficit in the game, but here is the reality - the Thunder were down by one point with four minute to go, and by a single possession for most of the remainder. It pains me to say it, but when the chips were down, Kevin Durant did not deliver. I don't know if he's still hurt, but he missed a wide open 3-pointer with under a minute to go that would have cut the lead to one, and he missed a free throw that could have kept things close.
Mayberry points out that this time around, it wasn't Zach Randolph that killed the Thunder, but their backcourt of Tony Allen and Mike Conley. After having watched Allen play against the Thunder four times this season, I know that: a) he is approaching the same defensive level that guys like Ron Artest have in the past, where he can disrupt an entire offense by himself; and b) he'd be an all-star if he played the Thunder another 10 times a season.
The money quote:
So for all those worrying about the future of the league due to the actions of LeBron and Carmelo, they may not have been paying close attention.
I agree wholeheartedly.
More links after the jump.
Mahoney offers some more insight into what was revealed at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference this past weekend. A few teams have begun to install tracking cameras that chart virtually everything that happens on the court. This is great news for all of us, since we shall now know without a shadow of a doubt which players utilize the "testicle dance" and how often. That's a win for all of us.
Here is my question - how many of us would take a nap during the day if we could? I have read about some companies that have installed sleep chambers in their offices in order to provide a quiet environment to allow their employees a quick recharge.
Here is an interesting take on Miami's "crygate," but I wish the writer had stayed with his headline premise and not devolved into the retired players' familiar mantra of, "we never would have done this buddy thing in our era" claptrap. Instead, I think what the whole episode says about the players is something else entirely. It says that no matter how great people say they are, there comes a point when men meet their own mortality. Magic Johnson met it when he announced he had HIV. Kobe Bryant met it when he announced that he had committed adultery. It is a moment when players realize that their best may not be quite good enough, and that is a point that breaks people, if only momentarily. What is the most troubling though was that this game wasn't a Game Seven of the finals; instead, the Heat players reached this point against what will likely be a relatively meaningless game in March, and that speaks to their frailty more than anything else.