Two’s-day Thoughts

2-24-15 Two's-day Thoughts

In my first edition of this weekly addition to my blog, I have chosen to write about James Harden and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Take a look!

Thought No. 1 – James Harden

Is there any player in the NBA having a better year than Harden, besides Steph Curry? Not only is he leading the league is scoring, 27.3 points per game, but he is single-handedly keeping the Houston Rockets in the top four in the Western Conference.

Since Dwight Howard has been out, most of the load has fallen on Harden, and while his numbers have decreased slightly in almost every category, the Rockets are still 8-4 during the stretch and just got back Terrence Jones, who should help Harden.

Last night, Harden took control of the game against Minnesota in the third and fourth quarter. He finished with a triple-double (31, 11 and 10) and blocked four shots. He made some nice moves, key plays, and big shots to help the Rockets overcome the young, pesky T’Wolves.

I think Harden looks even better than he did on the USA team this past summer and fall.

I believe Harden should be the front-runner for MVP this season, despite Curry and Golden State having a better season when it comes to team records. The Warriors have been pretty healthy for the majority of the season and I think Klay Thompson’s emergence into a star has made Curry an even better player. While Harden has Howard, I don’t consider Howard a star, anymore.

Harden would be my favorite for MVP, especially if he can keep his team in one of the top three spots in the Western Conference for the rest of the season, or at least until Howard returns to give him some help.

Thought No. 2 – The Memphis Grinders

I want to know how the Grizzlies do it. I mean I want to know how they physically force opponents to play their style of basketball.

They have become the masters of grinding out games.

The Grizzlies completed a back-to-back sweep last night of the Clippers and Trail Blazers. On Sunday, the Grizzlies beat Portland 98-92.

Even without Blake Griffin, the Clippers still average the second-most points per game in the NBA (106.9). Last night, the Grizzlies held the Clippers to 87 points.

When I looked at the Grizzlies’ numbers, I was stunned at what I saw because I didn’t see any elite defensive numbers.

But here is what I saw.

First, the Grizzlies play great defense but that’s something a lot of people already knew. This season they are holding opponents to 44.1 percent shooting, putting them in the top 10 in the league in that category.

Second, the Grizzlies are 24-6 when holding teams to 45 percent shooting or lower (Los Angeles shot 44.3 percent last night).

Third, the Grizzlies give up the third-fewest free throw attempts this season. The Grizzlies only allow 20.3 attempts per game.

Fourth, they force opponents to play one-on-one basketball. The Grizzlies have allowed the second-least assists this season (1,075).

Fifth and finally, the Grizzlies are 11-1 when they and their opponent score over 100 points and 29-5 when holding their opponent under 100 points.

The one downfall for the Grizzlies is they are 11-9 when their opponent scores over 100 points, whether or not the Grizzlies score over 100.

Those are just some defensive numbers.

Offensively, the Grizzlies are nothing special. They love to pound it inside to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. When the Grizzlies get to the foul line, they convert at nearly a 78 percent clip.

Memphis’ offensive numbers are nothing special, but somehow it wins at a 74.5 percent rate.

For what it’s worth in the regular season, the Grizzlies are 11-0 in games decided by five points or less.

Will this be the year that the Grizzlies outlast the rest of the West?


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