Grizz Need Prince To Pack Some Punch

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The least-talked about story throughout this postseason run by the Memphis Grizzlies has been the late January trade of leading scorer Rudy Gay. In fact, it really hasn’t been a topic of discussion at all.

That’s probably because the Grizz have done quite well — thank you very much — without him. They posted a team regular-season-best 56 wins and are in the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. And, look, you can’t find an analytics guy worth his scientific calculator to suggest the Grizz even remotely miss Gay, a small forward the number-crunchers view disdainfully as a black hole. Gay, with a rap as an inefficient scorer who took shots away from big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and also apparently stunted the growth of point guard Mike Conley.

But, desperately needing a first win in Game 3 this series against the San Antonio Spurs Saturday night at the FedExForum (9 p.m. ET, ESPN), what would the Grizz give to just have a scoring threat on the perimeter? The Spurs are jamming up the paint because there’s no repercussion for leaving Memphis’ wings open.

Gay’s replacement, Tayshaun Prince, has not been good offensively. OK, so maybe some of that had to do with him chasing Kevin Durant for three quarters every game in the second round. There’s no doubt that Prince — with his 6-foot-9 frame and long, gangly arms — is a better defender than Gay, more team-oriented on the offensive end and will move the ball before he puts up a contested shot.

But, at some point, the Grizz have got to get some scoring from their starting small forward — who hasn’t scored in double figures since May 3, Game 6 of the Clippers series in the first round.

In the first two games of the West finals he’s 3-for-10 from the field for eight points. He’s taken two free throws. That has a lot to do with why Prince played just 16 minutes in Game 2, scoring a playoff-low two points, while reserve Quincy Pondexter logged 37 minutes — and scored just seven points with nine rebounds.

Since then, a hot topic has been the possibility for coach Lionel Hollins to alter his starting five. However, on Friday, Hollins said he has no plans to make such a move.

“Whatever it takes to win,” Prince said. “I’ve always been that way and nothing changes for me. Whatever happens, happens. I’ve never been in a position where I’m worried or concerned about how I’m shooting. I just have to continue to stay confident and when the shots are available take them.”

No one will ever confuse Prince for being a volume scorer or shooter such as Gay. Prince’s best scoring season was 14.7 ppg back in 2004-05. His career scoring average 12.6 ppg on 45.8 percent shooting. The Grizz would be thrilled with such an uptick.

“He’s going to come along. I believe in him,” said shooting guard Tony Allen, whose scoring and shooting percentage have tapered off this series to playoff low 8.0 ppg and 35.7 percent from the floor. “I ain’t really worried about that too much. I know he can ball, so I believe in him.”

Prince’s scoring average and shooting percentage has dropped with each series from 8.5 and 40.4 percent against the Clippers; to 6.2 and 29.5 percent against the Thunder; and now 4.0 and 30.0 in the first two games against the Spurs. OK, so maybe some of that has to do with Prince being guarded by Durant last round and now Spurs up-and-comer Kawhi Leonard.

So how can Prince get jump-started? Everyone associated with Memphis is talking about pace. Not running up and down the floor like they’re the Nuggets, which they’re not, but simply by pushing the ball into the halfcourt quicker and getting into their sets earlier in the shot clock. They believe they’re dragging, whether it’s taking the ball out of bounds or off defensive rebounds, and allowing the disciplined Spurs’ defense to clamp down and force too many bad shots with the clock ticking down.

“No question,” Hollins said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to preach this whole series is we need to get up and down the court and not let San Antonio set their defense and call plays with 15 seconds left on the shot clock.”

Prince said it should be evident in the first quarter Saturday if the Grizz are indeed successfully quickening the pace.

“It will kind of dictate how we shoot the ball,” Prince said. “We have to get into our pace a lot quicker and those shots will come a little bit more natural, come a little bit more easier. You’ll have more rhythm shots, more rhythm opportunities.”

18 Comments

  1. gucci mane says:

    AND HE CAN SHOOT DA BALL

  2. Dude says:

    RUDY GAY!

  3. Patty says:

    THE GRIZZLIES SHOULD HAVE KEPT GAY. WHY TRADE GAY FOR PRINCE?

    PRINCE IS NOT THE SAME PLAYER AS 10 YEARS AGO.

    WHY IS THE ORGANIZATION MAKING HOLLINS PUT PRINCE IN THE STARTING LINE UP?

    GET RID OF PRINCE.

    SIT PRINCE DOWN ON THE BENCH HE HAS BEEN INVISIBLE THIS SERIES.

  4. theholyspecatator says:

    is this series still going on?

  5. DriveFerFive says:

    After Game 1, it was all about Z-bo stepping up and no mention of Memphis losing even though Duncan and Splitter combining for 7 points for the Spurs….now, it’s about Prince???….. Grizz are a good defensive team matched up against a great over all team with much deeper bench so why not quit throwing individual Grizz players under the bus and just acknowledge that they have a higher potential and need to come together as a team on BOTH ends of the court to beat the Spurs…and if they don’t, they will be joining the Lakers and Warriors on the 2013 All Western Conference fishing trip compliments of the San Antonio Spurs

  6. Kornholio says:

    How bout runnig a few plays for him in 1st quqrter to get him going in the offense? If he makes them it boosts his confidence, if he dosnt then go to the bench till 2nd half.

  7. ahmed says:

    let the young fella who looks like him on the bench play. Austin {Daye} is like a younger version of Prince, and his name rhymes with rudy {Gay}

    • isiah thomas says:

      Daye and Prince are totally different. Daye is a shooter and not even a consistent one to get any minutes. Pondexter would be the one to get the minutes not Daye

    • 34yr fan says:

      …why not………experience I guess

  8. Sam Rys says:

    prince need confidence from his teamates,coach and team in general i know the prince from 2004 & 2005 and he is the same, give him more mins and be confident,that guys has the actitude of a champion his ring say so.

    • Patty says:

      PRINCE IS NOT THE SAME. SIT PRINCE DOWN AND PLAY THE OTHER PLAYERS.

      PRINCE NEEDS TO RETIRE.

  9. Trueball87 says:

    Grizzles were down 2-0 to the Clippers.1-0 to OKC. Yes they lack the shooters of SA but have defenders, this series will be a new series once Memphis pulls it to 2-2, then SA will have time against them. Especially the game every other day set up. If Memphis takes a loss it’ll be due to Greene, Leornard, Splitter, Bonner not the normal big 3 or so. Memphis is set up for this kind of series as is SA, but age and small injuries may play a part.

    • 34yr fan says:

      …can only win 1 game at a time, trueball…….and how do you know who will be playing their best?? That is what is Great when you have a real team….Any or ALL of the players can have a great game at any time….Spurs Have proven this and the Grizz are getting there….. The game tonight isHuge ….for both teams for different reasons…..

  10. nbafan2013 says:

    watching the grizzlies game 1 i was shocked at how bad they did, because i expected more from them! i thought they would play harder. I didnt see any good performances from a single player apart from connerly for a few plays

  11. J says:

    should have traded gay for for someone like danillo galanari

  12. Youmelous says:

    I believe that Spurs are hard to handle, not like the so-called-short-handed Thunder, the Spurs looks like Man City to me!!
    Grizz can be in healthy for, but they can not beat the Spurs…
    There is something missing with the grizz!!
    Good luck everyone!!
    Morocco….

  13. Qiang says:

    Prince needs to go to bench. He has no offense power and lost his defense in a few important occasions.