He missed two buzzer beaters and had a horrible shooting game when he took more shots than he should have. Seeing Gay’s disheartening misses might have driven Lionel Hollins to drive the offense through Zach Randolph again.
Grizzlies fans were let down by Gay missing shots when a leading scorer needed to make them. In Game 1, Gay missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer when the Grizzlies had a couple of other good looks and a few seconds to set up a better shot. In Game 3, he missed another potential game-winner in the final seconds.
In Game 4, Gay dragged down the Grizzlies by shooting 8-of-25 from the field. He didn’t often shoot 25 times in a game, let alone shoot worse than 40 percent while doing it.
To be fair, Gay shot well, Game 4 aside, shooting 44.9 percent from the field.
Gay was the leading shooter by a significant margin. He took 16.2 field-goal attempts per game in the series. Randolph took 12.6 shots per game. Mike Conley took 10.9 and Marc Gasol took 9.9 per game.
In the regular season, Gay was by far the leading shooter. He took 16.4 field-goal attempts per game. Gasol took 11.4 shots per game and Conley took. In the games he played, Randolph took 10.2 shots per game.
Randolph took a slightly lower number of shots than Gay did in 2010-11. He took 15.8 shots per game on the season to Gay’s 16.1, but his average went down in the second half of the year, with other players stepping up to replace Gay’s scoring with him injured.
In the first half, Randolph took 16.5 shots per game, 0.4 more per game than Gay took.
Also of note, Randolph scored more in 2009-10 and 2010-11 than Gay did. In 2009-10, Randolph averaged 20.8 points per game to Gay’s 19.6. In 2010-11, Randolph averaged 20.1 points per game, compared to Gay’s 19.8.
That’s because the Grizzlies ran a different offense when Randolph was healthy from what they ran after he went down with a partial MCL tear in January, with a more open transition offense with players pushing the fast break and Gay often going end-to-end off steals or rebounds to score.
Also, the Grizzlies ran the half-court offense a bit quicker with Randolph out. Gay didn’t hesitate to make plays off the dribble. Tony Allen, who is generally not much of a shooter, averaged just above 10 points per game while taking quick shots, often rushing his decisions with the ball.
The Grizzlies ran a double post offense before Randolph became injured, pairing him with Marc Gasol as the post men. Gasol and Randolph would give mirrored looks on pick-and-rolls and post-ups.
They’d also spin out to the perimeter simultaneously, giving defenses a hard time to figure out who they’ll double down on in that set.
The Grizzlies turned the ball over less while running the double post than they did while running the Rudolph-less offense. They turned it over 14 times per game in 2010-11, compared to 14.3 per game after Randolph went down this season.
In 2010-11, they turned it over in 13 percent of plays, compared to 13.6 percent of plays this season.
The best move would be to go back to the double post offense. The Grizzlies would be able to cut down on turnovers and hurried play on offense. They’d maximize their top-three scoring options in Gay, Randolph and Gasol. Gay would still get his looks as an option outside the post and the key scorer in transition.
This would make Gay a bit less of a go-to scorer. He may end up with about the same proportion of field-goal attempts as the previous two seasons.
Moreover, it would maximize Randolph’s effectiveness and further emphasize the balanced scoring of a Grizzlies team where players rarely take 25 shots in a game or score 30 points.