Are Grizzlies In Need of Lineup Change?


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Locations change. Games change. Series change. Nobody knows that better than the Spurs and the Grizzlies.

This time a year ago, the Spurs were in precisely the same spot with a 2-0 lead and halfway home in the Western Conference finals. Then the Thunder reeled off four straight wins and suddenly it was summer in San Antonio.

Barely a month ago, the Grizzlies fell behind 0-2 in the first round of the playoffs to the Clippers. Then Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and the NBA’s best defense ripped off four in a row and began their deepest playoff run in franchise history.

Lineups change.

That could be what it will take now for the Grizzlies to get up off the floor and keep moving forward.

There’s little doubt that for the Grizzlies to win four out of five games against San Antonio, they’re going to need an effective Z-Bo in the middle of their offense, throwing around his bulk and wreaking havoc in the low post.

But, while Randolph did miss more than a few easy shots at the AT&T Center (“tightest rims in the league,” he said), there has also been the matter of a Spurs defense that blatantly collapses and doubles on Z-Bo because the Memphis perimeter shooting has been so horrid.

For all of his high energy and ability to make something out of nothing at times, Randolph does need room to operate with the way the Grizzles are misfiring so bad from the outside, he’s apt to continue getting smothered by the Spurs.

The Grizzlies‘ starting pair of Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince has made just 8 of their 24 shots from the field in the first two games. Prince has been especially woeful at 3-for-10, and it could be time for coach Lionel Hollins to put Quincy Pondexter into the starting lineup at small forward for Prince — and even consider getting Jerryd Bayless onto the floor much earlier in games.

It was the combination of Conley, Pondexter and Bayless playing with the Randolph and Gasol that enabled the Grizzlies to find an offensive rhythm for the first time in the series during the second half of Game 2.

Prince has had production go steadily downhill since the first round of the playoffs, and it’s gotten to the point where he is also a liability on defense. It be too early to say where this is just a bad match and bad series or whether the 33-year-old former defensive stopper is showing his age. But there’s no mistaking that his opposite number, the 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard, is winning the matchup easily. Leonard has size, strength, quickness and energy to run the floor, get rebounds, chase down loose ball and make shots against Prince.

It was always going to be difficult for Memphis to keep up with a Spurs offense that likes to play at a faster tempo and has more weapons and more ways to score. But the Grizzlies can’t afford to dig themselves a deeper hole by employing a lineup that is only 3/5 of a threat to score, even if they should get a bounce from being at home in the Grindhouse for Games 3-4.

History says that in the history of the NBA playoffs have lost the first two games of a best-of-seven series and come back to win. Of course, both of these teams have experience with that history, although from opposite sides.

“We’re in a great spot, but if you look at it, it’s the same spot we were last year,” said the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili. “It doesn’t mean at all that we’re going to make it just because we won the first two. We have to go there and try to win one.

“If it’s the third [game], it’s better. We’ve been here. We know that it’s not over until you win the fourth. So we just have to stay humble, keep working hard, definitely try to get one [in] Memphis.”

Locations change. Games change. Series sometimes change.

But sometimes it takes a lineup change to make it happen.


–Celtics vs Lakers 1969 NBA Finals
–Lakers vs. Warriors 1969 Western Division semifinals
–Bullets vs. Knicks 1971 Eastern Conference finals
–Trail Blazers vs. 76ers 1977 NBA Finals
–Bulls vs Knicks 1993 Eastern Conference finals
–Rockets vs. Suns 1994 Western Conference semifinals
–Rockets vs. Suns 1995 Western Conference semifinals
–Lakers vs. Spurs 2004 Western Conference semifinals
–Mavericks vs. Rockets 2005 Western Conference first round
–Wizards vs. Bulls 2005 Eastern Conference first round
–Heat vs. Mavericks 2006 NBA Finals
–Jazz vs. Rockets 2007 Western Conference first round
–Cavaliers vs. Pistons 2007 Eastern Conference finals
–Spurs vs. Hornets 2008 Western Conference semifinals
–Thunder vs. Spurs 2012 Western Conference finals
–Grizzlies vs. Cippers 2013 Western Conference first round


  1. hyder says:

    History says that in the history of the NBA playoffs have lost the first two games of a best-of-seven series and come back to win

    what ???

  2. FRONTROW says:

    Who cares, the Spurs are gonna win anyway. GO SPURS GO!!!!1

  3. charles says:

    Reminds me of popovich moving Manu in the starting line up and out of it throughout his career and depending on the kind of spark he needs. Grizzlies showed in the second game that they belong. The first game was a fluke. Now, that the real grizlies have showed up, I think the Spurs may think they’re in a “great position” but they are playing an incredibly tough team. They just need to win this one, and it’s a series!

  4. rcandcess says:

    I agree with the Pondexter-Bayless suggestion, only on the basis that they have had better nights offensively comapred to Tony Allen and Prince in Game 2. For sure, Z-Bo and Gasol will take advantage of being at home to finally regain control of their position advantages. But knowing Pop, he knows this adjustment as well. A team as good as Memphis knows how to dig out of an 0-2 pit, and a team as good as San Antonio knows this as well. But knowing your opponent and playing them actually on their home floor are two totally different teams. If the Spurs want to keep momentum, they will have to up their defense some more, and have more guys step up offensively. For sure, by now, coach Hollins must have found a way to contain Parker’s offensive explosion. That’s where guys like Green, Leonard, and even Gary Neal must come into the scene and step up. As for Manu and Timmy, all they need to do is to play like Manu and Timmy.

  5. isiah thomas says:

    If i was lionel hollins i would put dooling and tony allen on parker as adjustment and play pondexter,bayless more and give prince less minutes. At this stage of his carreer prince is a good wing defender and has below average offense. TA is also limited on offense. The bad thing for the Grizzlies is that spurs play team basketball and the ball constantly moves. Ta and prince are better off limiting the production of superstars who have the ball on their hands most of the time

  6. isiah thomas says:

    if i was lionel hollins i would put dooling and tony allen on parker as adjustment and play pondexter,bayless more and give prince less minutes. At this stage of his carre

  7. Bstarr says:

    Yep a change is needed here to make this CF worth to watch. Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince are not making their baskets and looking at game 2…..Grizzs should have won it in the 4th.

    Tony is a great defender with a lot of energy and effort, you might doubt to bench him. But Tayshaun brings only some playoff experience on the floor and that ain’t enough to win it. Quincy Pondexter needs to get more play time.

    But I’m afraid that it will be 2 late to win the series. I don’t see Tim Duncan getting in foul trouble in all the next 4 to 5 games. It was very clear in game 2 that when Tim was on the bench the Grizz were getting hot!

  8. Marc says:

    No, it is not required…they play well at home and it took them 5 quarters to show up, but now after seeing the over time game, this is going to be a series where the Grizzlies set the tone, grit n grind, physical basketball.