Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Game Preview & Thread: Knicks at Grizzlies

The Knicks are in Memphis tonight to take on a revitalized Grizzlies team at 8:00 EST. To help get everyone’s mind off Knicks trade rumors and stop fiddling with ESPN’s Trade Machine I brought in Jonathan May of 3 Shades Of Blue and Chris Faulkner of Grizzly Bear Blues to discuss tonight’s game.

Enjoy!

The Grizzlies host the Knicks tonight winners of their last two games before the All-Star break. In January, the team really got back on track winning 11-of-12 at one point. What’s been the biggest reason for their recent surge?

Jonathan: The surge experienced in late December (starting with the December 21st win in New York, by the way) into early February can be explained by a couple of things. First, we finally got healthy (for a second) when Marc Gasol returned on January 14. Marc’s value is not always easy to quantify with traditional statistics, but his presence on the floor allows everyone to play more comfortably on offense and more aggressively on defense. Second, the addition of James Johnson and Courtney Lee have given the team a big boost. Dr. JJ (aka “The Equalizer” aka “Double J” aka “Damage Hammer” aka “Blood Sport”) has given the Grizzlies energy and play-making off the bench that was desperately needed once it became clear that Jerryd Bayless was not going to be that guy this season. CL33 has been a solid (at times spectacular) shooter, and has given Randolph and Gasol much needed space in the paint while also being a better defender than he gets credit for.

Chris: With the Grizzlies season marred by so many injuries, I’d have to give credit to several people for that January surge. James Johnson came out of the D-League to supply the Grizzlies with much needed vigor. Acquiring Courtney Lee was huge, and the spacing he provides the Grizzlies (hallelujah it’s about time) has given Zach Randolph and Ed Davis to score very efficiently in the paint.

It’s also worth pointing out that Lee is continuing to play and score at a high level that many said would not be sustainable. Perhaps he does eventually “come back down to earth,” but he’s been a natural fit for the Grizzlies and head coach Dave Joerger. Lee isn’t simply just padding his stats with a few hot shooting nights – he’s scored in double digits 15 of his 19 games with the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies front office already made one in-season deal trading for Courtney Lee. Now, they’re reportedly trying to move Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince for J.J. Barea and Chase Budinger. Do you think this deal ultimately goes down?

Jonathan: No way. That said, I think there are interesting nuggets of truth buried within that rumor. I think the Grizzlies are highly motivated to find a taker for Tayshaun “Clanks” Prince and are willing to package him with a more valuable piece (Ed Davis, Kosta Kofus or Tony Allen) if necessary. With some uncertainty about Marc Gasol’s knee, it would be difficult to trade either of your back-up big men, which makes TA the logical piece to shop. I also think the team has an academic interest in Budinger, though I can’t say he excites me. Barea makes sense if you embrace the “Grizzlies need a backup PG” narrative, but that is much less true now than it was 4 weeks ago, in light of the improved play of Nick Calathes.

Chris: I do believe the Grizzlies want to trade Prince and his hefty contract, and I think they might be willing to give up a big player to make that happen, but I don’t see them giving up Tony Allen just to swap Prince for Chase Budinger. He’s obviously got an age advantage on Prince, but he’s not the athletic SF that Memphis would give up key assets to acquire.

I’m imagining that Tony Allen’s name popped up in this rumor because of actions/requests by Minnesota, not Memphis. As far as J.J. Barea goes, with Mike Conley returning tonight and Nick Calathes proving he can excel in the NBA there’s not an urgent need for someone with his skill set.

The Grizzlies operate at the slowest pace in the NBA, but it works. Why does the team seem to play so much better with the style?

Jonathan: While Coach Joerger initially tried to pick up the pace from the previous regime, the early returns were disastrous and he quickly reverted back to the pace of the prior three years.This is a “personnel dictates the pace” scenario more than the other way around. Any team that emphasizes defense first while running its offense through two lumbering bigs is going to play at a slower pace. Also, playing defense the way the Grizzlies elect to play defense consumes a lot of energy and effort. It is a trade off, honestly. The Grizzlies are choosing to have fewer possessions – despite knowing they are not particularly efficient scoring the ball – in order to limit their opponents possessions. It is pretty effective, amazingly. High-octane offenses inevitably end up “in the mud” with the Grizzlies.

Chris: The Grizzlies strengths are still in their post game even with the rise of Mike Conley and the acquisition of fast, athletic players like Courtney Lee and James Johnson. The Grizzlies score most efficiently when they utilize most of the shot clock and look for multiple options in our through their paint presence. Defensively speaking, the slow pace works because they rebound so well (5th best rate in the NBA at 51.7% of missed shots rebounded) and gain advantage by giving teams fewer possessions than they’re used to working with. When you combine the math with the defensive intensity and persistence they have through a half-court set, it wears teams down and gets them out of rhythm. As long as Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are here, that’ll most likely be the game plan.

The Grizzlies appear to be a matchup nightmare for the Knicks on paper, but how would you go about attacking this Grizzlies team defensively and offensively?

Jonathan: I think the Spurs let the cat out of the bag about how to defend the Grizzlies during last year’s Western Conference Finals. The catch is, not many teams have the personnel to do it. You have to force Memphis to beat you from outside the paint by making life as difficult as your personnel permits for Randolph and Gasol. You have to match ZBo’s physical play, keep him off the blocks and make sure that he is getting the ball 12-15 feet from the rim rather than 6 feet from the rim. If Zach is going to kill you with 17-footers, you’re sunk anyways. With Gasol you have to pick your poison after gauging what kind of night he’s having. I’d let him shoot his elbow jumper before I’d let him pick you apart with passes from that spot. If he is hitting them, then you get physical with him and dare him to bring his game closer to the rim where he and Randolph sometimes get in each others way.

If I had a good answer for you about how to beat the Grizzlies’ defensive scheme, I’d probably be getting paid to write. My best advice is to hit open shots when they are there, because their aggressive defense often leaves a man open if you make enough passes. The teams that have the most consistent success against the Grizzlies are teams that hit 3s. Lord knows the Knicks have plenty of guys willing to take plenty of those. If they fall, the Knicks are going to be in good shape. I would caution against those skip passes that will look like they’re there when they’re not.

Chris: The easiest way to score on the Grizzlies is get a wing defender to overhelp on an athletic post presence. Gasol and Randolph will always receive help defense when matched up against anyone faster than Kendrick Perkins, and the aggressive nature of the Grizzlies makes it difficult for the defenders to recover to perimeter shooters. Nail your outside shots and you’ll often get the Grizzlies into trouble.

When the Grizzlies are on offense they’re usually looking to impose their will with physicality. Teams that can match that physicality have had a lot of success in getting the Grizzlies post game out of sync, and when that happens the whole ship usually falls apart.

Who ultimately wins tonight and why?

Jonathan: I expect the Grizzlies to win. This afternoon we got word that Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will both be in the starting lineup, something that hasn’t happened nearly as often as we’d expected this season. When the Grizzlies got hot and won 11-out-of-12 in January it was with those guys on the floor together. The Grizzlies also know they have no margin for error after losing a handful of games in the first 2 months of the season that may come back to haunt them. Winning home games against Eastern Conference opponents is on the “must do” list the rest of the way.

Chris: As a Grizzlies fan I feel pretty good about tonight. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol should return after extended rest, and how quickly they regain their legs and footing will play a huge role in the feel of tonight’s game. Players like Carmelo always scare me against the Grizzlies – they’ll either be held to 14 pts or go off for 45 pts, 30 of which come in one quarter. But ultimately I think the Grizzlies play at a high level in front of their home crowd and keep this game “in the mud,” as we’ve come to say in Memphis. Look for a low scoring finish, something resembling Grizzlies 93 – Knicks 89.

141 comments on “Game Preview & Thread: Knicks at Grizzlies

  1. Jack Bauer

    As long as The Goatee is still the coach, it doesn’t matter who they trade for – they will still suck.

  2. bockadoo

    It’s almost like Dolan is a spoiled brat – he won’t fire Woody to spite us. No one can pressure HIM!

  3. d-mar

    You look at our starting lineup – Chandler, Felton, Shumpert, Prigioni and Melo – and it’s amazing we actually beat anybody

  4. Hubert

    I’m watching the last episode of true detective for a 3rd time.

    It’s still less predictable than the Knicks game.

  5. BigBlueAL

    That starting lineup is the best 5-man unit in the NBA. Problem is they have only played 110 mins together coming into tonight (according to tweets from Chris Herring last night).

  6. BigBlueAL

    Shump cant take advantage of Zach freaking Randolph covering him. Wasted a possession where he tried to drive by him and couldnt, wound up dribbling back out to the 3pt line and handing it off to Prigs which resulted in a rushed jumper by Felton to beat the shot clock which he of course bricked. Also Felton just bricked a wide open 3pter off a Melo pass. Rinse, repeat.

  7. Frank O.

    I can’t stand watching this team. Doing the same stupid shit. Thank god for the Olympics.
    And the Memphis color guy? An idiot. He said he thinks shooting woes simply must be the result
    Of his injury…and yet his shooting woes have lasted all season. Poor prep. So not only do the Knicks suck, the announcers are worse

  8. Hubert

    Shump cant take advantage of Zach freaking Randolph covering him. Wasted a possession where he tried to drive by him and couldnt, wound up dribbling back out to the 3pt line and handing it off to Prigs which resulted in a rushed jumper by Felton to beat the shot clock which he of course bricked. Also Felton just bricked a wide open 3pter off a Melo pass. Rinse, repeat.

    Time is a flat circle.

  9. Hubert

    Silverman I’ve got your next recap gimmick:

    Rust Coehle & Marty Hart each describing every Knicks players’ performance.

  10. BigBlueAL

    Melo and TH Jr left their jumpshots in New Orleans apparently. Hopefully it will be there waiting for them tomorrow.

  11. Hubert

    I have really enjoyed rewatching True Detective, by the way. Listening to Rust talk while reading knicks tweets and comments is (unsurprisingly) highly compatible.

    Also better than watching that Knicks shit.

  12. Owen

    My wife would like me to note here that Calathes means “basket” in greek….

    She is feeling some very mixed emotions with Koufos and Calathes both playing for the opposition….

  13. Nick C.

    I’m no basketball savant but why on that break did Melo choose to drive at the two defenders rather than around Koufos to empty space left?

  14. thenoblefacehumper

    “A 12 point lead is nothing against this team”

    Man, the Memphis announcers must have done exactly zero homework.

  15. Owen

    And yes, had the same thought with Shump, although my first thought was, “yes shump, step right inside the three point line and take the long 2, smart…..”

  16. GoNyGoNYGo

    Uninspired. They can’t do anything right. They don’t look like they want to be playing. They don’t pass. They don’t defend. They don’t rebound. There’s no way that they can win.

  17. er

    Shump is awful. That first quarter was a fucking shame. ZBO literally didn’t play him and he had no idea what to do

  18. maxwell_3g

    i just realized that I have the Ray Felton of all house problems (the stench that won’t go away). Realized that I have a dead rat inside one of my walls. dont know what the solution is, but Im doubting there is an easy one. suggestions (besides just getting used to the smell)?

  19. maxwell_3g

    the memphis announcer just said that “you cant double team Marc Gasol.” He doesnt know us. We are capable of doubling any player, at any time

  20. Owen

    “i just realized that I have the Ray Felton of all house problems (the stench that won’t go away). Realized that I have a dead rat inside one of my walls. dont know what the solution is, but Im doubting there is an easy one. suggestions (besides just getting used to the smell)?”

    Do you have a neighbor named Dolan? I suggest moving your house to him for his house, cash, a 2015 first rounder, three second rounders, and a barbecue…

  21. maxwell_3g

    anybody just catch the charge call that battier just got on NBA League Pass. NBA refs are so bad and they fall for the same stupid shit night after night. he litterally slid his entire body under marion while marion was in the air making an athletic basketball move, then collapsed to the floor. same ol BS

  22. maxwell_3g

    felotn is so f’n bad even when he tries hard. misses a 3 so bad he starts the other teams fast break like an outlet pass

  23. BigBlueAL

    Unlike last season, this season they just cant seem to hit those big/timely 3pters when trying to make that final surge to take the lead and finish the comeback. I give them credit for not lying down tonight though.

  24. BigBlueAL

    Tweet from Chris Herring just now:

    Once more for folks who questioned the Knicks’ starting five stat: That group outscored Memphis by 10 tonight in 11 mins of work.

  25. yellowboy90

    I was really hoping the Knicks could have got Calathes draft rights this summer. He is like a young Prigs but taller. He never did could shoot free throws though.

  26. BigBlueAL

    Holy shit, that was actually some great rotation on the perimeter defensively by the Knicks which lead to a Memphis turnover.

  27. BigBlueAL

    SHOCKED that Mike Miller would tie his season high vs the Knicks. My money is he soon surpasses that and sets a new season high tonight lol.

  28. Owen

    Was about to say how huge an impact Prigioni has made…

    the jinx is alive, should just shut my brain off I think….

  29. Owen

    Prigioni is a huge upgrade on Felton. This year, last year, every year….

    But he has had two killer plays this game, after his steal, and that last turnover.

    Still, he has had an excellent game right in line with his +10. Offense works so much better with him out there….

  30. maxwell_3g

    i like the no call. no one really fouled him. i hate it when offensive players assume the foul and crunch up into a ball and just throw the ball in the air

  31. Owen

    Not sure why Miller was so wide open. Prigioni looked pretty surprised about it….

    Someone tell me who to blame….

    goddammit this team….

  32. Nick C.

    Um I rewound the Miller three. JR had him vaguely while Prigs had Conley with the ball five feet away. A slight screen by a big man, JR fades to the paint, Miller wide open.That was all JR.

  33. Knicks4Eva

    Must. Fire. Woodson.
    And I can’t imagine a trade of THJ that I’d like.
    That’s young talent you have to keep.

  34. Brian Cronin

    I give them credit for knowing that THJ should get the ball at the end for a three, but Memphis knew that, too, and once they denied him the ball, just let someone else try to get a good look. Not THJ taking a fadeaway guarded three.

  35. thenoblefacehumper

    What the fuck did Woodson say in the huddle? He’s not a smart man but I don’t think it was “okay Timmy, now’s your time to shine. Contested fadeaway three!”

  36. BigBlueAL

    Knicks now 11th in the East. The worst season in the history of the Eastern Conference and the Knicks are 11th. Absolutely disgraceful.

  37. Brian Cronin

    Knicks now 11th in the East. The worst season in the history of the Eastern Conference and the Knicks are 11th. Absolutely disgraceful.

    3.5 games back of the 8th spot. Yikes.

    That said, I still have faith that the team will sneak into the playoffs. Likely after a terribly shortsighted trade that will ruin their plans for the future, but still, I think they will sneak into the playoffs.

  38. er

    crazy thing about the knicks is that they have the 7th best differential in the east. Not sure what that means

  39. Brian Cronin

    crazy thing about the knicks is that they have the 7th best differential in the east. Not sure what that means

    I know the answer to this one!

    “This East is bad, man.”

  40. Brian Cronin

    I’m sure Melo is signing up for more of this…lets face it guys, he’s outta here…

    Well, we’ll know a lot more on Thursday. If they actually do trade for a vet point guard, I’d say that that would make Melo returning roughly a 100% certainty. Right now I still think it’s likely 98% certain, but if they make a trade with his approval, no one would then leave the team after they made a trade specifically to make him happy, right?

  41. Owen

    “A slight screen by a big man, JR fades to the paint, Miller wide open.That was all JR.”

    Yeah, went back and took a look. The expression on Prigs’ face is pretty priceless. Pain, agony, shock and confusion.

  42. d-mar

    If Shump really is our best defensive guard, maybe try him on Conley for a few minutes in the 4th quarter? Prigs looked exhausted anyway.

  43. thenoblefacehumper

    “It’s sad, but I think old man Prigs is our best defensive guard.”

    It’s sad and hilarious how much we rely on him. We lost this game because our 36 year old point guard who’s two years removed from the Euroleague was gassed in the 4th quarter. He had to play so much because our starting point guard is the worst point guard in the NBA. Your 2013-2014 Knicks, everyone.

  44. BigBlueAL

    Asked Carmelo what he was thinking as Mike Miller’s shot left his hand: “I was just kind of wondering how he got that wide-open.”

  45. Brian Cronin

    MSG documentaries are usually pretty terrible, but this one with Walt visiting where he grew up in Atlanta was actually pretty darn awesome. Very touching.

  46. hoolahoop

    It keeps getting worse for Felton. Im actually beginning to feel a bit sorry for him now:

    http://pagesix.com/2014/02/18/wife-of-knicks-raymond-felton-files-for-divorce/

    In an interview last week Ray made an almost undetectable comment about off-court problems. His divorce could explain a lot about his poor play. If you’ve ever had your heart ripped out by a woman, (as most of probably have) you know how debilitating it can be. Nothing is more depressing and distracting than a broken heart.
    I’ve always thought Ray was better than he’s shown us this year. Maybe this is why.

  47. Donnie Walsh

    Nothing is more depressing and distracting than a broken heart.
    I’ve always thought Ray was better than he’s shown us this year. Maybe this is why.

    Did Ray’s heart break 2 years ago in Portland too?

  48. massive

    Apparently, the Kings are shopping Isaiah Thomas. We’d almost assuredly have to take back one of their bad contracts and involve a third team for assets to ship off to Sacto, but that kid is really, really good. The Celtics, like idiots IMO, turned down a trade of Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, and a 1st round pick for Rondo. That’s the best offer they’ll ever see for Rondo.

    I wonder if the Knicks will try to make something happen for Thomas to be a Knick. He’s a lot better than Teague, but not quite as good as Lowry, and something tells me his price will be higher than all three guys.

  49. Brian Cronin

    I don’t know if the Celtics turned down that trade so much as the Kings wanted to make sure that Rondo would re-sign with them before trading for him and he said he wouldn’t re-sign there long term so they backed off.

    But sure, I’d be totally down with the Knicks trading for Thomas. My only concern is that the cost would be majorly prohibitive. I dunno if THJ and a first rounder even gets it done.

  50. Hubert

    I watched a True Detective rerun at 8, a little Winter Olympics at 9, went to bed at 10, woke up feeling happy.

    Read the game thread this am. Seems like another textbook Woodsonian loss. I’m going to keep avoiding this team as long as he’s the coach. It’s really not that hard. If they lose I’m going to be pissed, and if something good happens it means he’ll get a stay of execution which also means I’m going to be pissed.

    His ongoing employment is an insult and has deprived me of any joy this team could bring me. So I’m not watching til he’s fired. First night was easy. Playoffs would be tough, but who are we kidding. This team ain’t making the playoffs.

Comments are closed.