Game On: Grizzlies @ Hornets

Published: December 7, 2012

The Western Conference-leading Memphis Grizzlies travel down the Mississippi to take on the Hornets.  How can Anderson and Company take them down?

The Grizzlies, written off after some struggles last year, have come back with a vengeance this season.  Zach Randolph, coming back from a knee injury, is closing in on being All-star worthy again.  Conley, now 25, has firmly figured out what he can and can’t do and has one of the most intelligent shot selections in the game, and Marc Gasol has inherited the title of the best passing big man in the league from the high post.  Gasol’s talents makes the high-Low post game by Gasol and Randolph hard to stop – and with Conley’s judicious use of posessions, this season’s Grizzlies has three different high efficiency options that counteract the volume scoring of Rudy Gay and make this team’s offense effective.  Add to that a tough, aggressive perimeter defense led by Tony Allen and Conley, and the Grizzlies have turned in some impressive numbers this year.

Offensively, the Grizzlies are the 8th best team in the league at holding on to the ball, the 3rd best team at crashing the board for offensive rebounds, and the 3rd best team in the league at drawing free throws.  Those four factors alone compensate for a slightly below average effective Field Goal percentage, and the team posts the 7th most efficient offense in the league.

The offense, however, is not where this Memphis team shines.  Defensively, the Grizzlies are 1st in the league.  They hold teams to the 5th worst effective field goal percentage in the league and force the third highest number of turnovers.   Tony Allen, inheritor of Bruce Bowen’s magical Cloak of Annoying Perimeter Players isn’t the only defensive standout for this team.  Conley is a league leader in steals, and the explosive speed he showed in college is harnessed to great effect, as there are few players I’ve seen who are as good as Conley at moving their feet to cut off driving lanes.  Add to that the length of Rudy Gay and the defensive focus that Quincy Pondexter has brought this year, and the Grizzlies already have an advantage defensively at the most important place – the initial point of attack.

Keys to the Game

So how do the Hornets take down this Juggernaut?

  • Crash the offensive glass.  The Grizzlies 21st in defensive rebound rate.  They will make you miss, get second shot opportunities.
  • Don’t double off Conley.  Send whichever perimeter player is guarding Allen or Gay to help on Randolph and Gasol in the post.  Conley is adept from three, or for driving and punishing those who over-commit on close outs.  Don’t put yourself in that position.
  • Attack the rim.  Gasol and Randolph are big bodies and strong, but they can get in foul trouble and the Grizzlies do foul frequently.  Get Lopez, Smith, Vasquez and Rivers going to the rim.
  • Let Gay catch and attack.  Rudy Gay uses 21.1 possessions a game and that generates 18.6 points for him and 4.6 points for other players.  That conversion rate is 30% worse than Randolph and 50% worse than Gasol and Conley.  Force him to shoulder a bigger load, and the Hornets have a better chance to win this game.

Enjoy the game!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.