Settle down, the Grizzlies are finding their way


May 19, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) reacts after a play during the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs in game one of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT

Game one wasn’t pretty, that’s not exactly a secret. And in turn, people are hopping on the Spurs bandwagon like it’s going out of style. But guess what, the Grizzlies haven’t won game one in any of their first three playoff series this year and here we are.

I know as sports fans it’s not in our nature to live in the past – having such short, emotional memories and all – but let’s try to remember the Bulls, Nets first-round series.

In case you missed, the Bulls were absolutely thrashed by the Nets in game one. Hell, ‘thrashed’ might actually be an understatement – losing 106-89.

People were in an uproar. All the s0-called analysts that chose Chicago began to doubt their picks, little knowing the Bulls would win in seven and go on to ‘thrash’ the Heat in game one of their series.

Long story short, history tells us that game one means absolutely nothing. It’s natural for teams – even great teams – to have a crisis of identity in game one.  Which is exactly what happened with the Grizz; nothing more, nothing less.

With that, let’s take a quick glance at a few of the things the Grizzlies must change moving forward:

Try actually guarding Matt Bonner, or the three point line period.

Any time you let a team shoot 14-29 from beyond the arc it’s going to be tough to pull out a win. And I say, ‘let’ for a reason. The Grizzlies have to sharpen their rotations and close out on shooters.

This is a double-edged sword, of course. The Grizzlies thrive off of their ability to create turnovers in passing lanes and off traps. It’s a sacrifice that needs to be made though, as there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re stout enough defensively to play the Spurs straight up.

The Grizz did rank second in limiting opponent three point percentage at 33.8 percent this season. So we know they are more than capable of defending the three point line. They just desperately need to mirror their regular season efforts.

Zach Randolph

This is a given. We know he can single-handedly dismantle the Spurs defense. We saw it in 2011. The Grizzlies have to get him going. 1-8 from the field in 28 minutes seriously won’t cut it.

It will be important that he gets that face up jumper from 15-18 feet going early, before double teams set in. The ball movement following those doubles will be even more critical, as the Spurs recover impeccably.

Randolph and Gasol combined to average 35.7 points and 21.5 rebounds in six games against the Spurs in 2011. They’ll need to match that production. If they do, you can bet the Grizz steal a game in San Antonio.

Defending the pick-and-roll

It’s easier said than done, but the Grizz have already dealt with and survived against the pick-and-roll with the Clippers. And while the Spurs are far more adept at running it than the Clips, it’s the same general concept.

It will be interesting to see if Lionel Hollins moves Tony Allen onto Tony Parker moving forward.

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