Sebastian Pruiti put together two great posts on what the Grizzlies were doing that worked against the Thunder so effectively. Yes, Zach Randolph was a difficult cover, but Pruiti focuses on the other big guy, Marc Gasol, to see where the Thunder really struggled.
In this sequence below, you can see how Gasol was able to set up a high screen late in the game while taking advantage of Randolph's positioning. The end result was a clear drive to the lane.
Gasol scored 20 points on 9-11 shooting in the game. He also scored five of his 20 points in the 4th quarter, which helped keep the Grizzlies far enough away from the Thunder so that OKC never really stood a chance at a late-game run.
A few more comments after the jump.
If you follow this link, you can see that the Grizzlies used this high screen strategy both early and late:
- What all of these plays underscore is the fact that the Memphis coaching staff know two things: 1) Denver blew it by not continuing to keep Kendrick Perkins in open space, as they did in Game One of the first round; and 2) Memphis has personnel that is better equipped to make Perkins play in open space.
- How do the Thunder protect Perkins? One idea - when either Randolph or Gasol sets up outside, the Thunder are going to have to discipline themselves to go underneath the screens. Perkins won't be able to hedge as much, and they will have to yield the 18 footer to guys like Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo.
- When we think of Randolph, the image that comes to mind is sort of a bare-knuckled bruiser who wants to just take the ball down low and bang away. However, he is much more dangerous against the Thunder when he faces up, either with or without the ball.
- Can Gasol continue to hit those straight-away 18 footers? If the Thunder give him 4-5 seconds to set his feet, check the wind, and order off the OKC Arena menu, he probably will.
- In simplest terms, what do the Grizzlies want to do the most? Pound the ball inside. What do they want to do the least? Shoot from the outside. Ergo, it isn't rocket surgery - the Thunder have to be willing to cede the outside shots to protect Perkins as well as the paint.