As the Memphis Grizzlies took on the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night, you might look at the injury report going into the game and think that the Grizzlies had the clear advantage. Not only have the Nets been one of the most disappointing teams over the start of the 2013-14 NBA season, but they were also going to be playing Memphis without Paul Pierce and without Deron Williams.
However, one of the moves necessitated by Pierce’s absence on Saturday night was Joe Johnson moving over to be the de-facto small forward in the Nets’ system. Subsequently, that meant that Johnson was going to largely be guarded by Tayshaun Prince. That matchup ultimately did not work in the Grizzlies’ favor.
Johnson erupted for 16 points in the first quarter alone on his way to leading all scorers with 26 points on 9-15 shooting and 4-7 three-point shooting for the game as a whole. Conversely, Prince wasn’t able to come close to matching Johnson’s production, notching no points on 0-4 shooting and having just a rebound and a turnover to his name in 23 minutes on the floor.
Prince has really struggled this season as a whole. His offensive production of just 7.5 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting is certainly nothing impressive, but his defense has also been slipping as he ranks as just the 130th best defender this season in terms of points per possession, according to Synergy Sports.
Prince showed signs of slowing last season, the year he came to Memphis, but he hasn’t looked as over-30 as he has this season before. He’s looked a step slower on both ends of the floor and, more or less, looks a bit lethargic on the floor. Perhaps it’s the illness he was dealing with in the preseason slowing him down or maybe it’s just age. Whatever the answer is, though, he’s going to need to find a remedy if he wants to keep finding minutes.