March 18, 2013
Remember when Memphis traded Rudy Gay, getting back Tayshaun Prince and Ed Davis, and the consensus among television talking heads was this was going to set Memphis way back because they gave up all that shot creation?
What they gave up was inefficient shot creation. What this trade allowed Memphis to do was focus on what it does well. (For the record, I had said it was a good trade for Memphis but that they might take a small step back on the court with Prince on the wing.)
Memphis has now won 14 of their last 15, moved into the three seed, and they look like a team nobody wants to face come the playoffs.
Tony Allen was honest in an interview with Hoopsworld - Memphis is better without Gay (hat tip to SLAM).
‘Well, I just think we turned into the team that we were two years ago, without the guy that we traded. Obviously, we've made some additions, but for the most part we're the same team from that 2010-11 season…. Just Grit and Grind, in and out basketball. Everybody playing hard, playing together.'"
It tends to be a hockey thing to say a team is "built for the playoffs" but in Memphis' case it applies to the NBA. They have the second best defense in the NBA for the season (behind only Indiana), they have a real Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Marc Gasol, and they want to pound you inside on offense with Gasol and Zach Randolph. The share the ball, they have a couple guys who can create and they play smart. In the last 15 games the Grizzlies offense is 5 points per 100 possessions better than it has been on the season overall - they are scoring more now without Gay.
Nobody wants to see Memphis come the playoffs, and that includes the squads in Oklahoma City and San Antonio that would still be favorites over them.