To help me preview tonight’s San Antonio Spurs game against the Memphis Grizzlies, I talked to Aimee Stiegemeyer, the Founding Editor and Co-Owner of All Heart in Hoop City, a fantastic Memphis Grizzlies, and Memphis Hustle blog.
1. The first question I have to ask is about the Fizdale firing? From reading one of your articles, it seems you don’t agree with the move. What, if anything, could Fizdale have done considering the circumstances to improve where the team is right now?
I don’t agree with the decision at all. It was shortsighted and in my opinion, will be detrimental to the team in both the immediate future, and in the long term. It’s a bad look for the organization right now, and I think it will come back to bite them in the future when it comes to recruiting quality coaching candidates.
I feel like a lot of the Grizzlies current situation has been driven by injuries, which is not something that David Fizdale had any control over. Putting together effective lineups when you’ve got to factor in the minutes restrictions of several players has got to be challenging enough, then throw in losing Mike Conley for an undetermined amount of time? I’m not sure there’s much anyone could have done to improve the outcome after all that.
2. How do you think the team will adjust to the change and as someone that covers the team closely, do you think Bickerstaff is the right person to get the Grizzlies back on track?
How the team adjusts moving forward obviously remains to be seen, but I worry about this causing a rift in the Grizzlies locker room, perhaps irreparably. One that results with Marc Gasol requested to be traded.
As far as J.B. Bickerstaff is concerned, he is a talented coach in his own right, and I think he’s as capable as anyone to try and steer this Grizzlies team back on track.
3. LaMarcus Aldridge put up 41 on Wednesday night. What do the Grizzlies need to do to try to neutralize him tonight?
Seeing as how Aldridge shot 3 of 3 from beyond the arc Wednesday night, not leaving him open on the perimeter would be a great place to start. He’s fond of the corner three, so try to avoid letting him get the ball in his hands in those situations. Which is easier said than done, and defending a three-point shooter without fouling is something the Grizzlies have been historically bad at doing.
4. Have you been surprised at all at the play of Tyreke Evans? He seems to be on his way to a career year? With Conley out, how important has Tyreke been to the team?
Absolutely. The level on which Tyreke Evans has been playing has been an unexpected but pleasant surprise. I wrote about this recently, the phenomenal performance he’s had so far this season. If I had to pick an MVP for the Grizzlies season so far, it would be Tyreke Evans, hands down. He’s not only got the highest PER of any player on the Grizzlies roster, he’s got the highest PER out of every shooting guard in the league. I think this becomes even more valuable now that Mike Conley is going to be out at least another 2-3 weeks.
5. Obviously, this is a home game for the Grizzlies and they’ll want to avoid a repeat of Wednesday night and losing back-to-back games against the Spurs. How do you think this one plays out?
I think this needs to be a statement game for the Grizzlies, a win against the Spurs is just what this team and its fans need right now. If they come out of the gate playing with urgency, and keep that level of effort and energy throughout the entire game, the Grizzlies can secure a much-needed win tonight.