Yesterday's game was brutal, both in how it was played and the outcome. We played so poorly that we probably should have lost by more than we did. As a team we shot 32.5% from the field and 0% from three on 13 attempts. Mike Conley was 2-13 (I'm not sure if it's true, but someone on twitter said he had the flue). Zach Randolph was 3-12. Blake Griffin was about as bad and Randolph offensively. So that about cancels out, if not giving an edge to Zach because of rebounds. But Chris Paul, while not great, was much better than Conley. I think that was the biggest difference.
Our starters played at least as well, arguably better than theirs. Though Rudy Gay was bad in the 4th quarter, as was the whole team throughout the series. For some reason, they just don't run their offense the same way in the 4th as they do the rest of the game. Obviously they need to figure this out in the offseason.
But aside from the difference between Conley and Paul, the other deciding factor was Kenyon Martin and Nick Young coming off the bench. Martin was 5-7 with 10 rebounds. And even though Young was only 3-8, he hit 2 of his 3 three pointers and was much better than his counterpart in OJ Mayo who was 1-11. Martin's counterpoint is supposed to be Marreese Speights. But he only got to play 11 minutes and took two shots. I know some people have complained about Randolph not getting enough time. While he is the better overall player, he hasn't been the same as he was last year. And Speights has been a fairly consistent shooter this season. So I think we could have used more of him yesterday.
Moving on from yesterday and this season, I think this team is still in pretty good shape. Just because Mike Conley isn't Chris Paul doesn't mean he lacks value. Offensively he is decent. And defensively he gives you a top 5 steal producer. So he is probably not hurting the team overall. I love Tony Allen. He doesn't provide much offensively. But if he could improve his jump shot he would be a really good player because he is just fantastic defensively. I know he only signed a two year deal with us. So I'm not sure if he is signed for next year. If he isn't I think we should sign him because beyond his value, we don't have a sufficient replacement. OJ Mayo, while talented, isn't good enough. And I don't say that just because of this playoff series. He can't play point well enough and he isn't a good enough shooter to start over Allen. So at SG I think we should look for a good outside shooter to replace him, someone like JJ Redick.
Rudy Gay is a good player. But he is not a good enough shooter to warrant the amount of outside shots he takes. He either needs to improve his shooting or do like Lebron James did this season and cut down on his outside shooting and focus on getting shots closer to the basket. That shouldn't be too difficult since Rudy is very tall, has a long wingspan, and is athletic enough to drive to the basket and utilize some simple post moves. If Rudy can improve his efficiency and learn to work within an offense that is run through Gasol and Randolph I think it will help with these bad 4th quarters.
My only problems with Gasol is that he needs to demand the ball more. Aside from that we have a good center signed to a decent deal long term. Randolph obviously needs to get healthy. But like Rudy, he needs to cut back on the outside shots. I think he needs his mid range jumpers to keep defenders honest. But his strength is scoring in the paint and that should be his priority whereas sometimes I think he gets lazy and wants to hang back and shoot from the outside.
I like Marreese Speights coming off the bench. He seems to be able to play center or power forward. Aside from him and maybe Pondexter and Cunningham I would like to see an attempt to update the bench, especially at point guard and shooting guard. The starters aren't going to give us much from the 3 point line. And that's fine because they score well in the paint and are good at creating turnovers and then creating those turnovers into fast break points. But when the starters come out or during certain situations it can be helpful to have a 3 point threat. And if we could get that in a point guard or shooting guard who aren't bad in other aspects of the game I think it could help round out a pretty solid team going into next season.