The Memphis Grizzlies are the slowest team in the league. That is not an opinion, it is a fact; the Grizzlies have the slowest pace in the NBA with 92.2 possessions per game. Playing at a glacial pace isn’t a new scheme for the Grizzlies, it is what they have done in each of their three previous playoff seasons, but when you play at a pace as slow as the Grizzlies do, you cannot turn the ball over at a high rate and expect to win. On Wednesday evening, the Grizzlies turned the ball over and got embarrassed by the Brooklyn Nets in a 103-94 loss.
The final score was not indicative of how the game was played out; the Nets led by as many as 30 points at one point in the third quarter. Brooklyn forced the Grizzlies into 21 turnovers on the night and scored 26 points off of those turnovers. The Grizzlies’ lack of concern for possessions, coupled with their knack for giving up three-pointers, allowed the Nets to jump out to a 25-5 lead — a lead that never dipped below six points throughout the remainder of the game.
Brooklyn also knocked down 15-of-26 three-pointers, forcing the Grizzlies to go away form their bread-and-butter inside-out brand of basketball, and start chucking threes of their own. Since Memphis is one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, it was no surprise they could not keep up, and were put out of their misery early in the third quarter.
The Grizzlies are a flawed team, they are not a good outside shooting team, and if you find a way to accentuate that flaw, they are screwed. Without Zach Randolph, Memphis was forced to work from the outside, and with the Nets’ length on the wings, there were turnovers on seemingly every other possession. Mike Conley couldn’t kick it out on drives, and no other guard could get in the lane.
There are very few games where teams can force Memphis out of their muck-it-up style, but when it happens, it is bad news for the Grizzlies. Memphis has the second fewest turnovers per game in the league, so nights like tonight are rare, but they would prefer that their off nights happen against teams they aren’t expected to beat. They came into the night with a chance to tie the Phoenix Suns for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, and now they are back to being a full game out.
This particular game might have been a bit of foreshadowing on the remainder of the Grizzlies’ season. They started this game, and this season, in a very large hole. After a valiant effort to make this game interesting, they fell short because the deficit was too large to overcome. With every Memphis loss to a team they are better than, it gets harder and harder to see them making the playoffs, and it’s not as if the Grizzlies aren’t one of the eight best teams in the West, its just that they dug themselves too large of a hole to overcome.