Saturday, March 22, 2008

Postgame Thoughts: Memphis vs. Sacramento - 3.22.08

Darko Milicic made a move from the elbow, ducked around Mikki Moore and finished with a sweet finger roll basket. That play almost single handedly described how well the Grizz were performing against Sacramento on Saturday night.

Juan Carlos Navarro followed up a strong game in NYC, where the fans were cheering for him more than the Knicks, with 6 three points baskets in 9 attempts in a 22 point effort. Many of the shots came late in the game when Sacramento was trying to steal the game.

Mike Conley looked as sharp as he has in weeks. His 10 pt, 6 assist game in under 28 minutes were huge in getting the Grizzlies off to a hot start and to keep Sacramento from getting too close late in the game. He moved the ball well, hit open shots when they presented themselves and was constantly breaking down the Kings defense with penetration in the lane.

Memphis won back to back games for the 2nd time this season and looked incredibly sharp in doing so. They have now won 3 out of 4 games as well. Normally that would be cause for some joy in Memphis but when the three wins came against teams competing with Memphis for ping pong balls in the upcoming lottery one has to question whether the desire to win isn't superseded by the logic of improving their chances of getting a top pick in the draft. So while plays like Milicic's finger roll combined with a 19 pt and 10 rebound game, or Navarro's 6 three point bombs or Conley's 10 pt, 6 assist game should make people pleased they also seemed to be working against the team's long term best interests.

However it only seems that way.

Memphis is not guaranteed anything by winning or losing this game. The team gained much needed confidence in both themselves and the system that they are playing under by winning this game. The argument that the team should be trying to lose as many games as possible is wrong. It may turn out that losing more games could have given the team a better draft pick, but it could just as easily turn out that winning these games allows the team to have a better draft pick. It may turn out that the player who gets drafted one spot ahead of the Grizzlies pick is a true difference maker in the NBA. It may be just as true that the player taken after the Grizzlies pick turns out to be the real star of the draft.

At this point we just don't know. What we do know is that the experience of playing a tough game and coming out on top is needed for the young Grizzlies. Lessons learned from this win may translate into more important wins in the future when games are more important. Bad teams stay bad from failing to learn the lessons from the positive outcome of games like these. Teams go from bad to good by learning how to win games like these. A team that starts 3 players under 23 years old and has two more under 22 that play significant minutes needs to learn how to win games as much as they need to worry about the outcome of ping pong balls in a machine.

And by the way, Minnesota beat the Knicks tonight so the win didn't drop the Grizzlies in the standings and has no effect on the lottery at all.

BallHype: hype it up!

1 comment:

August West said...

forget the lottery, these guys will around for a while and need to learn how to win ASAP.

Seattle and Portland didn't think they lost enough last year until after the ping-pong balls said otherwise!