The Memphis Grizzlies got their first win of the season without their injured star Marc Gasol. They beat the Boston Celtics 100-93 in large part because of their bench. Memphis has been limited by their bench for each of their past three postseason runs, but if they are going to succeed during the next two months without Gasol, they will need their bench to step up big, like they did on Wednesday evening.
Memphis got off to a quick start, thanks to Mike Conley starting off 4-5 from the field and scoring eight points in just over seven minutes, but the bench is what allowed the Grizzlies to stretch their lead and hold off the Celtics. The biggest contributor off the bench, Jerryd Bayless, wasn’t much of a surprise. Bayless led the team in bench points last season, as he is doing this year, and he led the team with 22 points against Boston. Bayless’ production was sort of expected, but the play of Ed Davis was a huge surprise — and a much needed one — for the Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
With Kosta Koufos struggling since joining the starting lineup in replacement of Gasol, the Grizzlies needed a post-player off the bench to step up their production. Since Memphis has yet to fill the roster spot of Gasol, that left the Grizzlies with Davis and Jon Leuer as the only options on in the inside. Davis was the biggest piece of the Rudy Gay trade from last season, but he has yet to live up to the expectations of Memphis fans and coaches. Davis has been indecisive on the offensive end, and has mental lapses on the defensive end. So, his 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks on Wednesday were a bit of a shock.
Davis not only stuffed the stat sheet, he also brought energy off the bench that has not been seen too often from him during his time with Memphis. Davis was hustling all over the court, making plays, extending plays and being an overall nuisance for the Celtics. With Davis wreaking havoc and Bayless shooting lights-out, Memphis was able to secure a victory, despite having an off night from All-Star forward Zach Randolph and Koufos. Also, outside of the eight quick points, Conley was put on lockdown by Avery Bradley for the final three quarters. The big-time play of Memphis’ bench cannot be overstated.
Having Bayless take some of the scoring load off of Conley and Randolph is going to be huge for the Grizzlies without Gasol, but more production from Davis will also be key. If the performance from Wednesday night is the kind of production Memphis can expect from Davis on a nightly basis, the Grizzlies could still hold onto one of the eight playoff spots in the NBA‘s Western Conference while Gasol recovers. If Davis gives the Grizzlies his season average of 3.6 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game, it will be hard for them to maintain a good enough record to compete for the playoffs, and would result in a failed season for a team with title aspirations.
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