Posts Tagged ‘Memphis Grizzlies

Raptors fit right in at the Grind Factory; Encouraging steps; DeRozan’s frustration and Lowry all-star talk

- January 22nd, 2015

MEMPHIS — The Raptors tried to pull a Freaky Friday and borrow the identity of the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, but the Grizz didn’t return the favour and swap identities with them. The result was far from a thing of beauty. The two teams slugged it out, shot a whole lot of bricks and spent a ton of time at the free throw line in a foul-plagued affair.

- While the struggling offence is a major concern for the Raptors, they can take heart at least in the fact that their defence has finally done a 180 and is getting back to where it once was. They turned 13 Memphis turnovers into 24 points. Thriving off the mistakes of opponents was a hallmark earlier on. They also held the Grizzlies to just a single three-pointer, though the big, tough Grizzlies got to the line far too often.

- DeMar DeRozan is as frustrated as I’ve ever seen him. He is just 2-for-20 over his past two games. He knew it wouldn’t be easy to bounce back after missing so much time, but what is really bugging him is that his teammates, who had been so deadly offensively all season, have gone ice cold at exactly the same time.

- An example of what Lowry does to put the Raptors in position to win games, even when his shot isn’t falling: With the game tight, Lowry willed the Raptors back to a tie at one point by pulling down two offensive rebounds in a row (never mind that he stands a foot shorter than some players). Late in the third, he dropped in a spinning layup after the second of those boards to tie the game and give the Raptors some momentum. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t take advantage.

- Casey had talked beforehand about how difficult it is to try to match the Memphis front-court. “We’ve got to play our style, whether it’s up-tempo and make sure we get the ball to the weak side once we get down. This team is a very difficult team to go toe-to-toe with. You better have some bazookas on your side because they are two of the best interior players in the league as far as in the paint, controlling the restricted area so our bigs are going to have to do an extra special job,” Casey said. Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson answered the bell, playing quite well, while Tyler Hansbrough and Patrick Patterson weren’t great, but at least were quite impactful on the boards. Patterson had six more offensive rebounds and is hauling in more offensive boards the past few games than ever before. Memphis leads the NBA in points in the paint, yet the Raptors were right with them for most of the game in that category, until the Grizz hammered them 18-6 inside in the decisive fourth.

- What a luxury it is for Memphis coach Dave Joerger to have Kosta Koufos behind all-world centre  Gasol. Koufos was known more as a scorer while at Ohio State, but has morphed into an excellent defender, particularly at the rim. No wonder Cleveland was after him, before settling for Timofey Mozgov, who isn’t close to the defender Koufos is, but is a better overall player. When Gasol had to leave in the third quarter with four fouls, Koufos came in and was excellent, making three great plays at the rim to deter the Raptors. He had two blocks in the frame, a steal and six points.

- Terrence Ross couldn’t build on his best game in ages. While his defence was better than it had been, he couldn’t get untracked on offence and was held scoreless.

- What would Lowry do if he was named an all-star starter on Thursday night? “I don’t even know,” Lowry said. “Honestly, I wouldn’t even know what to say. I’d be shocked but we’ll see. I’m not really banking on it, I’m just going out there. I know the Canadian fans did a great job of voting for me and I appreciate them. Hopefully they did their job and something special happens from it.”

NBA conference finals quick preview

- May 19th, 2013

I did pretty well in Round 2 (4-0, in fact and was bang on with Heat in 5 and Spurs in 6) bringing my playoff series prediction record to 10-2. But as we move to the NBA’s final four, here’s where it gets at least a bit trickier.

Eastern Conference Final

Miami vs. Indiana

This one should be closer than you’d think. It’s a superteam vs. an expertly constructed, balanced group that excels because of contributions from everybody.

Miami doesn’t really have an answer for Roy Hibbert, who has been playing some fantastic basketball throughout this post-season, but LeBron James makes a bigger difference than anybody in the league, and that’s why the Heat will prevail. Yes, the superb Paul George will slow James down a bit if matched up with him, but I see LeBron and Dwyane Wade getting Hibbert into foul trouble.

David West vs. Chris Bosh also will be an interesting matchup. Don’t expect Bosh to dominate, West will give him a challenge at both ends.

It’s too bad George Hill isn’t 100% healthy (even though he passed his concussion tests), because he’s a guy that could really give the Pacers a boost.

This is going to be a battle and this Indiana group probably knocks off last year’s Miami squad, but with Ray Allen and Chris Andersen providing lots of help off of the bench this year and James continuing the ascent that began with his dominating finals performance, Miami has enough to survive. They might be tested as much here as in the final though.

Heat in 7

Western Conference final

Spurs vs. Grizzlies

I’ve made a habit of counting out the Spurs in recent years – and regretting it – but, here I go again. The Grizzlies will upset the Spurs again. Marc Gasol is playing at a spectacular level and even though Tim Duncan has the best chance of just about anybody of neutralizing him, Zach Randolph will be there to pick up the slack and Tiago Splitter isn’t going to be stopping Z-Bo.

In a long, brutal series, which this one will be, I like Memphis’ youth over San Antonio’s vast experience. I’m not sure Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will be healthy enough in the latter half of the series after the pounding they will take to get the Spurs through. Early on in the series, Gasol will deter that backcourt from entering the lane and Tony Allen will make life tough for Manu.

The main reason for doubt is Memphis’ lack of a closer and Parker and Ginobili’s history of coming up huge in the biggest moments. Plus, homecourt advantage always helps and the Grizzlies don’t have a particularly fearsome bench.

The Spurs have the experience edge, but Gasol is an international champion and Tayshaun Prince has brought Memphis a proven winner with veteran savvy to help counter-act San Antonio’s pedigree. Prince has faced the Spurs on the biggest stage before and helped frustrate them with his defence.

Don’t expect high-scoring games and the Spurs might make me look foolish again, but:

Grizzlies in 6

 

 

 

 

 

Raptors at Grizzlies Points Per Game: Not dead yet so put away the shovels, Lowry says

- November 29th, 2012

MEMPHIS — Really, what did you all expect? Memphis is one heck of a basketball team. Toronto is not, yet matched the Grizz for 24 minutes. After that, Memphis took over. That said, it wasn’t all talent. A lot of what happened in the third quarter – a complete Toronto collapse – was because of effort and experience. The Grizzlies played hard, as they usually do and that veteran-laden team, a rare squad that has kept its starters intact for years – played like the men they are against a Toronto team that still has a lot of growing up to do. You can understand that, but you can’t understand, or accept, the lack of fight in the third. Young Terrence Ross said he realized that and maintained he and his teammates will catch on.

“When a team turns it up, we have to follow and turn it up too. We’ll catch on to it. I think it’s just a mental thing at this point. We’ve just got to fight through it,” Ross said.

More thoughts and some post-game quotes:

-Jonas Valanciunas said he was fine after a scary-looking fall. “Good thing I have big chest,” he said with a laugh. He was in decent spirits considering the fall, yet another loss and since it was his worst game in weeks.

-Kyle Lowry looked like a prizefighter with his eye half-closed after getting poked in the eye. He didn’t see the  zaniness that was going on when it happened, so all he could do was laugh when told Quincy Acy got him, then gave Rudy Gay a good shot, while Gay gave Valanciunas a shot to the groin.

Lowry insists the Raptors aren’t dead yet. They have some dirt on them “five feet deep,” he said, but he believes they will pull out of it, starting with the game against Phoenix.

Lowry doesn’t look right. He’s clearly battling to get back in form. He wasn’t in great shape to start the year thanks to his injury and then got hurt again, which has limited his effectiveness.

-More Ross, talking Grizzlies: “They have good ball movement. They know how to score, what works for them.”

-Doesn’t sound like Andrea Bargnani will be sidelined for long with his ankle injury. Amir Johnson said he’s fine after what looked like a brutal ankle sprain. “I’m the rubber band man, I bounce back,” Johnson said, adding he felt fine.

game gives him and play through whatever defence Tony Allen throws at him.

-Weird that Lowry wasn’t champing at the bit against his former teams these past two games (even without being in peak form) and that Jerryd Bayless had a bad one against Toronto.

-Mickael Pietrus is a good fit, especially if Landry Fields is out longer than anticipated. Once they’re both healthy, the Raptors will have a decent foursome at the wing. Is there enough minutes for four guys? Sure. DeRozan probably plays 32-35 minutes a night, the other three 20-25.

-Casey didn’t like the lack of ball movement and found the play out of the half “alarming,” but believes the unselfishness will return and this was an aberration. As for the passion out of the half? He doesn’t know.

-Sounds like Ed Davis was one of the only players he was pleased with, so expect more minutes for Boss.

“Ed came in and played well, really battled two of the most physical guys in the league, that’s a positive,” Casey said.

The bad news? Casey liked the two point guard look of Calderon and Lucas. The sooner the team is done with the dual point guard look, the better.

-One more on the Memphis side of things. The team doesn’t have the best record in basketball by accident. Those guys don’t lack confidence either. They know they are good.

Lionel Hollins said this:

“Our defence, it was overwhelming in the third quarter. It was just outstanding. We held them to 14. We scored 33 on a lot of transition buckets … our defence energized our offence. We had 23 deflections. We didn an outstanding job all around.”

By the way, Hollins also pointed out that Lowry isn’t back to his usual self, since he’s just back from his ankle injury and indicated that helped Memphis a lot.