The Memphis Grizzlies knew that the NBA Playoffs were going to seem a lot further away than they actually were with Marc Gasol being sidelined or limited indefinitely with an abdominal tear. Gasol has been the heart of this team on both offense and defense this season and it was never in question that Memphis would miss having him healthy on the floor.
Now there is speculation that Gasol might be out for the rest of the regular season, though there has been no official word and he played on Wednesday night. However, Gasol was obviously limited in his abilities with the abdominal injury and many of the problems from when he was out still persisted.
Through the first three games that the Grizzlies have played without Gasol or with with him on the floor at less than 100 percent, that has definitely been the case. The Grizzlies have notched just one win in those three games and they haven’t looked much like a playoff team at all.
In those three games, Memphis has allowed an average of 107 points to their opponents. That kind of defense is a far cry away from the 89.7 points per game that they allow on average for the entire season. In fact, 107 points per game is absolutely atrocious defense, especially for a team that has had the second-best defense in the league for the entire year.
Though the Grizzlies have averaged more points per game over these three games than they have for the entire season, their offense hasn’t looked particularly good. Their sets and plays have looked sloppy and the team has looked like they don’t know where to begin or end when it comes to trying to score. Watching how they’ve played, it’s remarkable they’ve averaged over 90 points per game.
All of the struggles that Memphis has exhibited over the past three games can easily be linked to the absence or limitations of Gasol. He is a stalwart on the interior defensively and is one of the most versatile big-men on offense in the entire league. Without him healthy or without him on the floor the Grizzlies look leaderless.
If Gasol does miss the rest of the season or is limited when he plays, the Grizzlies, who are currently competing with the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers for the three, four and five seeds in the playoffs, can pretty much settle themselves into the five seed. Without Gasol, they aren’t effective enough on either end of the floor to win enough games to gain some ground.