The Memphis Grizzlies are in big trouble against the San Antonio Spurs, and their outlook doesn’t look much brighter as this series moves on.
Zach Randolph needed to assert himself in game 1 and play like the star he’s proven to be throughout his career. Instead of rising to the occasion and uplifting his team, he instead was held to 3-13 shooting for a measly 6 points.
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It’s not easy to score inside against LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan, but the Grizzlies surely hoped that Randolph would at least be more effective than what he showed in game 1.
The Grizzlies have had a successful run the last half decade as a defensive-oriented team that never put up huge point totals, but this time they’re severely shorthanded. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley account for roughly 32 points between the two of them, and the Grizzlies simply don’t have the offensive weapons to make up that deficit.
Only Vince Carter and Lance Stephenson scored double digit points for the Grizzlies in game 1. When those two are being relied upon to be two of the top 3 scoring options (assuming Randolph bounces back in game 2), it doesn’t inspire faith that the team can deliver enough points to not only beat the top ranked defense, but an opposing offense that’s 3rd in the league in points per 100 possessions.
Stephenson is athletic and can create his own shot, but he’s too inconsistent to be relied upon as anything more significant than a 4th option on a competent offense.
At age 39, it isn’t realistic or fair for the Grizzlies to depend on Carter to carry the offensive load. He lead the team with 16 points in game 1 and shot 6-7 on field goals and 2-3 on 3 point field goals.
That’s fantastic production, but to keep that pace up for an entire series after shooting less than 39% from the field and averaging 6.6 points per game during the regular season doesn’t sound like a gamble the Grizzlies want to make. They may not have many other choices, though.
Tony Allen and Matt Barnes are great defensive players, but lack the skills to create their own shot on offense. Jordan Farmar is capable of hitting perimeter jumpers, but isn’t anywhere near the overall player Conley is. Chris Andersen can rebound and block shots, but offense isn’t his top priority.
This is a team full of solid role players with nobody left to actually score the basketball consistently. Randolph, Stephenson, and Carter are probably going to have to combine for somewhere around 50 points per game for the Grizzlies to have a chance to win, and that sounds like a doubtful proposition against the defense they have to go up against.
Randolph’s days as a bona-fide number one option for a contending NBA team are probably over, and this was a bad year for Gasol and Conley to both get injured. They need Randolph to be the 20 PPG, 12 RPG player he was 6 years ago, and against the Spurs’ interior defense, that sounds like wishful thinking.