The Memphis Grizzlies will be the #7 seed taking on the #2 seed San Antonio Spurs. It will be a tough task, to say the least, as the Spurs have hit their stride heading into the playoffs. They have won 16 of their last 23 games dating back to March, and have been able to rest players strategically heading into the playoffs.
The Grizzlies have their hands full in this series and it will take a lot of firepower to make this a series. It all starts with their big three.
The trio of Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley have combined for 54% of the Memphis Grizzlies scoring offense this season. They average a combined 54.3 ppg of the Grizzlies 100.3 ppg team total this season.
Marc Gasol is had a career season. He is averaging a career-high in points (19.6) and is shooting the outside shot at an efficient rate at 39.8 %. It is nowhere near the percentage of his older brother Pau who is averaging 54%, but Marc is averaging more than double the attempts per game (1.6 vs. 3.6). Since Marc Gasol has returned from his left foot strain, he has averaged 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in the four games.
Gasol needs to be 100% heading into the playoffs. It will be crucial for the Grizzlies success to have the high and low game working with him and Randolph during this series.
You can not credit Mike Conley enough for what he has done for this Grizzlies franchise since he came to Memphis after being drafted in 2007. This was his first season where he was able to surpass the 20+ ppg average mark. After his new contract (5 years, $153m), he has been under some pressure to produce like other scoring guards around the league, and he has answered that pressure. Ten of his 15 career 30-point games have come this season, and he scored a career-high 38 points against Phoenix in January. Conley is averaging 20.6 points a game, which is 7 points higher than his career average through last season.
His three point shooting has been something to take notice of as he is shooting 40.7% of his three-point attempts.
Conley is a tough player and the most clutch player on the Grizzlies roster. He had a bad laceration to his eye a few games ago and only missed one game to ensure the franchise that he will be ready for this postseason, and ready to show his true grit.
Veteran leadership will be the main role of Zach Randolph. Randolph has been transitioning this season from a go-to guy in the offense to someone who is a glue guy, and a plug and play type of player. What Randolph does that a lot of bench players are not able to achieve is the ability to produce double-doubles in limited minutes.
Randolph had a league leading 19 double-doubles off the bench. A conversation for the Sixth Man of the Year would be legitimate for Randolph. This Memphis team wouldn’t be where they are without the leadership and production from Z-Bo off the bench and will be even more important in the playoffs.
Overall, the trio of Conley, Gasol, and Randolph will be a crucial success for Memphis. This may be their last chance to advance in the playoffs altogether. To say they will be leaving it all on the floor is an understatement.