Memphis extended Game 4 into overtime with a late run in the fourth, but, once again, were able to pull out the win in crunch time. In this series, which now stands at 3-1 in favor of the Clippers, the Grizzlies have lost by a combined 6 points.
Memphis has the tools to be ahead in this series, they just don’t appear to be utilizing them.
Marc Gasol, who had the highest on-court/off-court point differential this season for Memphis at +13.8, had a total of four field goal attempts in last night’s game. This is a player who shot 48% and averaged just over 11 shot attempts during the regular season who, come playoff time, can barely get a touch.
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins put the onus on Gasol, saying he wasn’t asking for the ball enough down the stretch, but there are bigger problems than that. Several times throughout the game, the Memphis guards would either miss the Gasol in the post or simply refuse to throw him.
There were points during last night’s game when Gasol would run the pick-and-roll with the Memphis’ guards and end up in the post with Chris Paul or Randy Foye defending. Hitting the big man down low would have been two easy points, but instead the Memphis guards chose to dribble around to try and take their defender one-on-one or would swing the ball to the other side.
Gasol is a top five center in the league. He’s effective on defense and knows how to score, yet the Grizzlies have refused to utilize him. His shot attempts have decreased as the series has progressed: he was 6-10 in Game 1, 3-9 in Game 2, 3-5 in Game 3, and only 1-4 last night.
Maybe Hollins is right in saying Gasol needs to be more assertive and demand the ball, like Zach Randolph has throughout the series. But, maybe its his job as the coach to ensure that his team is seeing the mismatches Gasol is getting and to work on feeding him. Clearly the hero-ball strategy they’ve been using, where Rudy Gay gets the ball, dribbles out the shot clock, and throws up a wild shot, isn’t working.
Memphis is playing too much one-touch basketball. They need to work the ball around, and a good place to start is with their inside game.
Get Gasol involved and you’ll have a better chance in Game 5. Don’t, and we’ll see you next year.