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Tag:2011 Grizzlies-Thunder
Posted on: May 7, 2011 12:58 am
Edited on: May 7, 2011 1:26 am
 

Playoff Fix: Adjustment bureau in Memphis

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing: The adjustment Scott Brooks and his coaching staff made for the Grizzlies in Game 2 was almost jarring. The Grizzlies went from a dominant inside force to a more perimeter-oriented attack. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph went from combining for 54 points to compiling just 28 together. Nothing came easy for the duo, as Gasol went 3-9 and Randolph 2-13, including 0-5 in the second half.

The Thunder were a dominant team after the Kendrick Perkins trade because of their interior defense. That was missing in Game 1 as the Grizzlies dominated the flow, feel and pace of the game. It's all about that battle again in Game 3.

The X-Factor: The Thunder won Game 2 behind two X-factors: 1) Big-time bench scoring from Eric Maynor and James Harden, and 2) excellent interior defense from Nick Collison. Harden, you can count on again to be a scoring weapon off the bench. He was the top scoring sixth man since the All-Star break. But, Maynor, I'm not sure you can bank on giving 15 points and 3-4 from 3 again. And again, Collison was excellent covering Randolph in the post.

The Grizzlies though, need to find some help again off the bench. O.J. Mayo gave good minutes as a reserve in Game 2, but the Grizzlies missed quality bench minutes. Greivis Vasquez was a non-factor. Darrell Arthur didn't give much. Someone has to find some baskets for Memphis in the second unit. Gasol and Randolph will be better, but the Grizzlies have to find extra points from somewhere.

The Adjustment: How does Lionel Hollins adjust to find space for Randolph and Gasol. The high pick-and-roll was snuffed out in Game 2 by the Thunder and OKC's defenders gave Randolph no space. The obvious adjustment is more minutes for O.J. Mayo, as he's one of the few players that can space the floor. The Grizzlies were last in 3-point attempts, and makes, this season. The Thunder dared them to take and make them in Game 2. Memphis didn't respond.

Either the Grizzlies change their game and look for more outside, or they just try and power through the Thunder's interior adjustment. That's basically where we're at right now. These teams have had three days off to think about it all. Lots of time to adjust adapt and work. Let's see what they come up with.

The Sticking Point: Obviously this game is big. Though, I think it's more important for the Grizzlies, who I see as shouldering more of the pressure. The Thunder looked very good in Game 2 and made the opening loss seem a bit like an aberration. So the Grizzlies need to re-establish and handle their home floor. Drop this one and the Thunder immediately have the home court back.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were good in Game 2, but not great. Again, the Thunder's role guys stepped up. This one is going to come down to which duo outperfoms the other. Is it Gasol and Randolph or Durant and Westbrook? The Thunder see a big opportunity to ride some momentum and take control of this series here. But the Grizzlies have been terrific at home. Something's got to give here. And that's why this is going to be one terrific game.
Posted on: May 4, 2011 2:54 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 3:00 pm
 

Zach Randolph comes up small in Game 2

Memphis forward Zach Randolph was missing in action when the Grizzlies needed him the most. Posted by Ben Golliver. zach-struggle

Things were finally starting to look up for Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph. He has battled a bad rep for years, and flown under the radar for most of his NBA career. Despite being one of the league's most productive big men, he's been named an All-Star just once and has been long been known for his run-ins with the law rather than the merits of his game.

That's changed in the past few weeks, as the Grizzlies launched a stunning upset over the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, and stole Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Randolph even got a nice write-up in the New York Times

Unfortunately, those good times came to a halt for Randolph on Tuesday night, as the Grizzlies fell to the Thunder, 111-102, in Game 2, and Randolph uncharacteristically struggled mightily from the field.

First, some perspective. Randolph was the No. 19 NBA scorer this season, averaging 20.1 points per game.  His 50.3 field goal percentage was good for No. 27 in the league, a rank that doesn't really do him justice given how much of his scoring comes from his perimeter game. When the Thunder told CBSSports.com's Royce Young that Randolph was the best power forward in the league, they might have been exaggerating, but it wasn't an insane statement. In fact, Dirk Nowitzki is the only other premier power forward with comparable numbers that's still playing in the NBA playoffs.

Randolph's value as a player is tied directly to his elite consistency. Randolph scored in double figures in 72 of his 75 appearances for Memphis during the regular season, and only grabbed less than eight rebounds seven times on the year. More or less, you knew what he was giving you. He was the bedrock.

As Young writes, Randolph was ably held in check in Game 2 by the Thunder defense. Randolph scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds -- getting his numbers -- but he did so in super-inefficient fashion. 

Indeed, Randolph shot just 2-for-13 on the night. That 15 percent shooting clip was Randolph's second worst of the entire 2010-2011 campaign. Only a 2-14 performance in a February 7 loss to the Lakers was worse.

Here's a chart that reinforces how consistent Randolph is. Rather than looking at scoring, it's a look at his game-by-game field goal percentage. You don't need to a magnifying glass to see his Game 2 performance, on the far right, sticking out like a sore thumb.

zach-fg.jpg

As the chart shows, Randolph failed to shoot 30 percent, a good cut-off point for an awful night, just five times this season, including Game 2. 

Randolph is in some good company there. For comparison's sake, Lakers star Kobe Bryant and Thunder star Kevin Durant each failed to shoot 30 percent five times on the season as well. The same goes for the NBA's MVP, Derrick Rose and Miami Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade

Who was better among the NBA's elite scorers? Nowitzki only slipped below 30% three times. Same thing for Heat All-Star forward LeBron James.

So the Thunder are smart to be wary about their ability to repeat their defensive performance on Randolph. In reality, he had a once-every-40-games off night, and won't likely repeat that ugly performance during the rest of the Western Conference semifinals.
Posted on: April 30, 2011 4:07 pm
 

Expert Picks: Western Conference Semifinals

Our CBSSports.com expert picks leaderboard and predictions for the second round in the West. 

Posted by EOB staff.  



The current standings after arguably the best first round in NBA playoffs history. 


Expert Scores
Expert Right Wrong Bonus Total
Matt Moore 6 2 2 14
Ben Golliver 6 2 1 13
Jamey Eisenberg 6 2 1 13
Ken Berger 6 2 0 12
Sergio Gonzalez 5 3 2 12
Royce Young 5 3 2 12



Here are our picks for the second round. 


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com