This week was full of excitement and intrigue for the NBA. Not because of anything on the court, but because New Jersey Nets partial owner, Jay-Z, saw the birth of a healthy baby girl. I forget his wife’s name (just kidding it is Beyoncé), but seriously how many owners’ wives do you know the name of. The name of the mega couple’s daughter is Blue Ivy Carter. Blue because they really like the color and Ivy because the couple really likes the number four, and IV is four in Roman numerals. Well the couple should love the fact that the Grizzlies wear blue in their uniforms and played exactly four games this week. In honor of Jay-Z’s new daughter I am going to flood this week’s 3 Pointer with as many Jay-Z references as possible.
Towards the end of last season and into the playoffs, the Grizzlies laid The Blue Print for how they were going to play this year.You Can’t Knock the Hustle of last year’s squad, and this was supposed to be a team that was going to use hustle and effort to get back to the playoffs and possibly contend for an NBA championship. So far this season has been a Gift and a Curse (actual title of Jay-Z’s album is Blue Print2: the Gift & the Curse, but hey who cares which article you use). It is not like they have been playing second tier competition this week, as the combined record for their 4 opponents from the week is 30-15. The Grizzlies now sit at 4-6 after losing 3 straight contests to some of the NBA’s elite teams and blowing the Knicks out at home. Memphis lost to Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, who by the way is showing the NBA who Runs This Town, and is tied for the best record in the league. And the home record of the two teams the Grizz lost to on the road this week (the Jazz and the Lakers) is a staggering 11-2. Memphis has 99 Problems on the offensive side of the ball, as they failed to crack 90 points in each of their three losses this week, and again the most notable issue has been their play from long range. They are averaging just 2.3 three-point makes and a woeful 22.8 percent from behind the arc. The Grizzlies were knocked around this week, but they will need to get the Dirt of Your Shoulder to prevent falling further behind in the playoff race (wrong pronoun but you get the picture). It is time for our weekly Grizzlies 3-pointer, three things the Grizzlies are doing, need to do, and will be doing to improve upon their success as a team on a weekly basis.
1. What are the Grizzlies doing?
Losing close games. In their 3 losses this week the average margain of defeat is seven points, and if you take away that 40 point shalacking by the Bulls, their average margin of defeat is 7.6 points per game. Memphis is right there with a chance to win the game night in and night out, but for whatever reason they just have not been able to close games out. I guess you could say the Grizz have had a Hard Knock Life down the stretch of games early on this season. The Grizzlies had a chance against all 3 opponents, but bad fouls, poor turnovers, and big runs to close out the games have prevented Memphis from winning. Good teams win close games, and although the season is young the Grizz need to find a way to pull the games out down the stretch in order to Do It Again and make a deep run into the playoffs.
2. What do the Grizz need to do?
Not panic, because panicking leads to rash decisions being made, like this insane notion that Memphis should trade Rudy Gay. When I first heard people discussing trading Gay I was like Jigga What, you cannot be serious. That is the senseless panicking that I am talking about right there. It is very easy to begin to panic when your team is on a 3 game losing streak, but everybody needs to keep in mind that there are 56 games left to play. You do not trade a player like Gay because he is struggling early in the year. Everyone needs to remember that he is coming off of season ending shoulder surgery, so it is going to take him a minute to get his basketball legs under him, especially with an abbreviated training camp and preseason. However, it does not help that Gay was on a Paper Chase last season that resulted in him getting over $15 million this year. So now Money Ain’t A Thang, but production is as Gay is averaging only 16 points per contest. He must have had an Empire State of Mind on Thursday night against New York, and a few more performances like his 26 points against the Knicks will make people remember how good he can be. Fans want to see more production out of Gay, and his team needs him to assert himself more on the offensive end if the Grizz are going to give fans an Encore of last season.
3. What will the Grizzlies do?
Find a way to get more production out of their core guys. Memphis has four players averaging double digit points, but nobody is averaging more than 20 points per game. Can I Get A player to consistently score 20 points a night for the Grizzlies please. Everybody wants to point the finger at Gay and say he needs to step up in Z-Bo’s absence like Randolph did last year in his absence. However, everybody on the team stepped up last year when Gay went down last season. So everybody needs to step up this year until Randolph can get back healthy. Marc Gasol is doing his part, averaging a double double in Randolph’s absence. However, the other big men Marreese Speights and Dante Cunningham also need to step up in Z-Bo’s absence. Hopefully OJ Mayo’s 18 points in the Grizzlies’ victory over the Knicks is a sign that he is ready to step up and be the offensive threat we all expect him to be, so that Memphis can get back in the playoff race.
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CJ Hurt covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from FedExForum.