The Grizzlies had a mediocre debut against the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night. The Grizzlies lost 119-104 to the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are a well-balanced team that presented many match up problems for the Grizzlies. Despite losing by a hefty margin, there were a few positives throughout the game to go along with a few blemishes.
The play of Mike Conley Jr. stood out. He was very efficient and aggressive throughout the game finishing up with 23 points, five rebounds and eight assists. Players such as Sam Young and Darrell Arthur had very good games off the bench, combining for 36 points.
If Arthur and Young can produce on a nightly basis, they become great options to have. Arthur was inserted in the lineup while Zach Randolph played the Center position filling in for Marc Gasol. Arthur answered the call and proved he was ready whenever his number is called. Rudy Gay put up solid numbers to go along with the strong play of Conley, Arthur and Young.
O.J. Mayo looked to be very passive in the game, only hoisting up nine shots. This team will not win if Mayo is not aggressive. With Marc Gasol out of the lineup I expected Hasheem Thabeet to make some type of impact on the court. In 18 minutes Thabeet looked uncomfortable while on the floor. I don't think Thabeet will get sent down to the NBDL again, but he is a work in progress.
The biggest concern was the overall team defense. With Gasol and Randolph out of the lineup that made the Grizzlies a smaller team. The Hawks shot extremely well from the field at 52 percent and they also shot 50 percent from three-point land. The Atlanta Hawks are not the Los Angeles Lakers so it is important the Grizzlies shape up before they face Western Conference foes.
All of the issues mentioned are fixable problems. Tonight against the Mavericks the Grizzlies will have to play with a sense of urgency on the court and try to limit obvious mistakes.
It is hard to gauge a young team when they open up their season against two teams, in Dallas and Atlanta, with years of playoff experience. In order to become a playoff team you have to beat them. Lionel Hollins has a good grasp on this team and there is no need to hit the panic button as of yet.