Each day, we are going to preview the night's NBA Playoffs action by looking at the adjustments that can be made by the losing team and showing what they can do to win.
After losing Game 5 in blowout fashion, the Memphis Grizzlies are at home facing elimination Friday in Game 6. If they want to keep the game close and give themselves a chance to get the win and send this series to a Game 7, they need to make a few different adjustments on both ends of the court.
Offense: Get It To Zach Randolph On The Left Block
During the regular season, Randolph was more effective in the post on the left block, scoring 0.898 PPP on 44.4 percent as compared to the 0.870 on 42 percent on the left block. However, that didn't stop the Grizzlies from giving him most of his post touches (4 of 6) on the right block. The reason why Randolph is ineffective on the right block is because of the fact that he is a lefty and when he faces up to shoot a jumper on the right side, he is bringing the basketball back to the defense:
On this play, Randolph gets the basketball on the right block and faces up his defender, Serge Ibaka. Randolph drives to the right and attempts to take a step back jumper (something that he has had plenty of success with all series), however because he is a lefty, he is actually bringing the basketball back to Ibaka's area and in a range where he can try to block the shot. Even though Ibaka doesn't get the block here, he obviously alters the shot as Randolph sends it long.
If Randolph takes this same type of shot from the left block, Ibaka would have to go through Randolph's body to actually attempt to alter the shot in the same way. If the Grizzlies want to win, they need Randolph to be effective down low, and if they want that to happen, they need to post him on the left block.
Defense: Maintain Floor Balance
Despite having just 14 transition opportunities, the Thunder were able to score 25 fastbreak points in Game 5 against the Grizzlies. A good chunk of these points allowed were self inflicted by Memphis, as they failed to maintain floor balance and giving the Thunder a free run in transition:
On this play, we start with Greivis Vasquez penetrating in the middle of the lane. As that happens, Shane Battier spots up in the corner. However, with all five Grizzlies' players below the free throw line, Battier needs to get back and be ready to stop and transition opportunity.
As Vasquez passes the basketball off, you still have all five Grizzlies below the free throw line.
As the Thunder secure the basketball, James Harden starts to leak out. Battier tries to get back, but he is coming from the corner instead of being up top, and he has a lot of ground to make up.
Battier is able to get back, but because he had to cover so much ground he is unable to effectively contest the shot, allowing Harden to finish. Here is the play in real time:
When you are on offense, you need to maintain floor balance and keep someone back on defense. Instead of getting back, Battier decides to spot up in the corner, essentially giving the Thunder an easy transition opportunity.
On both of these plays, you have a player who is supposed to rotate to get back on defense (Mike Conley in the first clip/O.J. Mayo in the second) walking to their spot instead of hustling back. This hurts them when the Thunder gain possession of the basketball and get out on the break, taking advantage of nobody back on defense.
If the Grizzlies want to have a chance in Game 6, they need to keep the game close and hope to take advantage of the Thunder's late game struggles. For that to happen they need to limit the Thunder's transition game and keep them from getting too many easy buckets.