Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Grizzlies Shine in Weekend of Romps

Lop-sided victories are hardly uncommon in the opening weekend of the NBA playoffs. Superior teams, at times vastly so, playing at home – that’s gonna happen. Five of the eight openers were decided by double-digits.

Oddly, two of the three exceptions were the eight seeds, New Orleans and Brooklyn. (The Nets actually out-executed the Hawks, 46 conversions to 44.) The worst drubbing of the weekend was administered to the defending champion Spurs by the Clippers, 107-92.

But the most dominant performance was turned in by the Memphis Grizzlies. Their lockdown on Portland induced but 34 percent shooting and a mere 41 conversions (in 101 possessions), resulting in a 100-86 victory.

The Blazers had parried a hot (10-2) Memphis start to pull within four points with a minute to go in the first quarter. Three minutes and a 17-3 run later, the lead (which would peak at 29 and still surpass 20 halfway through the fourth quarter) stood at 18.

Back-up point guard Beno Udrih contributed 11 of his team-high 20 points during this crucial run.

Even more encouraging to Coach Dave Joerger than the easy win was the physical health of his squad. Mike Conley and Tony Allen each provided 20+ minutes returning from injury, and Marc Gasol showed no ill effects from a recent ankle tweak.

Quick Takes

n  San Antonio has struggled defending the three pointer all season (No. 24 in the league). The Clippers drained 10 of 18, a whopping 56 percent.
n  On the other hand, if Houston can continue to stroke threes at a 40 percent clip (10-25), watch out!
n  Cleveland delivered the most efficient offensive performance, converting 56 percent of their possessions. Their 13 treys was also a weekend high.
n  In losing efforts, the Spurs and Blazers combined for 33 offensive rebounds on 122 misses.