Another week has passed us by, but the excitement and memories still linger. Perhaps the most intriguing thing that happened this week was NBC’s announcement that “Community” will be returning to the network on Thursdays starting March 15th. Do not get me wrong I enjoy making fun of Britta’s accent and the way she says bagel as much as the next person, but NBC has decided to put “Parks and Recreation” on a five week hiatus and I do not know what to do with myself. The move was made to try and create a spark for NBC and boost their Thursday night ratings, but I do not like it because they are taking off one of my favorite shows. NBC’s new Thursday lineup will consist of “30 Rock”, “Community”, “The Office”, and “Up all Night”. So in honor of the current lineup on NBC Thursdays, here is a “Comedy Night Done Right – All Night” edition of the 3-pointer.
Memphis was in need of a boost this week headed into the All-Star break and they got it. The Grizz went 3-1 this week and are going into the break in the seventh spot of the Western Conference. A couple of last second put backs by Tony Allen and Dante Cunningham saved the Grizzlies this week after the team blew huge leads, but a win is a win. It is time again 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?
Playing phenomenal defense. Coach Hollins would make Jack Donaghy from “30 Rocks” proud with the way he has gotten everybody in a Grizzlies uniform to buy in on the defensive side of the ball. The Grizzlies are currently eighth in the NBA in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 92.2 points per game going into the All-Star break. They also lead the NBA in steals per game. Memphis has several players worthy of All-NBA defensive honors so far this season with Marc Gasol fourth in the NBA in blocks and Rudy Gay eleventh in steals. However, the starting backcourt of Mike Conley and Tony Allen really set the tempo on the defensive side of the ball, just like Tracy and Jenna set the tempo for TGS. Conley leads the league in steals per game with 2.47, and the pressure he applies on opposing point guards makes it difficult for the opposition to get into their seats quickly. Allen, who is recognized as one of the best all around defenders there is in the league (and reminds me of a more athletic Tracy Jordan), does not trail Conley in the steals department by much. He is averaging 1.90 steals per game (which is good for seventh best in the NBA), and often takes on the task of guarding the other teams best player. This is the type of defense the Grizzlies need to play if they are going to make it back to the playoffs and contend for a Western Conference title.
2) What do the Grizzlies need to do?
Continue crashing the offensive boards. They are better at rebounding than Jim is at pulling pranks on Dwight in “The Office”. Memphis is a middle of the pack team offensively that struggles to score the ball at times, and is averaging just 93.4 points per game (significantly fewer points than their 99.9 average from last season). The Grizzlies are also only shooting 44% from the field and 32% from behind the arch. With numbers like these extra possessions are a necessity so offensive rebounds is a critical factor in ensuring wins for Memphis. They are averaging 11.8 offensive rebounds per possession which is good for sixth best in the NBA, and that is almost as impressive as “quad desk”. Perhaps none were more crucial than the two tip ins this week by Cunningham (who is not Z-Bo, but a good will make a good assistant to Z-Bo) and Allen. Memphis must continue to snag offensive rebounds to make up for their less than stellar shooting percentages from the floor if they are to remain in playoff contention.
3) What will the Grizzlies do?
Just rest. It is as easy to do as making fun of Jerry every episode of “Parks and Recreation”, so if they need an example of what to do then look at Tom. Most of us are tired with aches and bruises after pick up games once or twice a week and that’s with no one playing defense. Can you imagine how your favorite Grizzlies player feels? Their bodies probably feel like Andy’s after he fell into the pit. They have spent the last 57 days playing 34 games, gritting and grinding every step of the way, giving it their all, and rarely taking a play off. “Parks and Recreations” laziest employee Tom could learn something about work ethic from this team. It seems like they play every other day, and they have played 9 back-to-backs so you know that this break is much needed for them (and everybody in the NBA for that matter). Plus the break will give Zach Randolph some time to continue to workout without missing any games. So enjoy the break Grizz fans (and NBC’s new Thursday lineup) and get ready to see more grit and grind in the second half of the season.
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C.J. Hurt covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from FedExForum.
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