One Adjustment the Memphis Grizzlies Must Make to Ensure Postseason Success

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIApril 29, 2013

April 07, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings small forward John Salmons (5) battles between Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50), center Marc Gasol (33) and shooting guard Tony Allen (9) before a shot clock violation during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Grizzlies won 89-87. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph exploded for the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 4, reminding what quick order the Grizzlies make of opponents when they both are in tune. Continued monstrous play from Gasol and Randolph will be necessary in order for the Grizz to dispatch the Los Angeles Clippers.

Both had their troubles in the first three games before overpowering the Clippers with a combined 48 points, 22 rebounds and six assists.

That was the first playoff game since Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals in which both dropped at least 20 points, harkening back to a series where they carried the team's weight.

Gasol had struggled to hit shots before Game 4. He shot 41 percent from the field before hitting nine of 14 from the field on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Randolph has shot just fine. He's hitting 56.4 percent from the field, including 11-of-17 from the field in Game 4.

Now, the two hadn't properly meshed with each other on the boards before Sunday. Zach Randolph is an incredible offensive rebounder who does a pretty good job on the defensive boards. His fifth-place standing in total rebounding rate was pulled by a fourth-place finish in offensive rebounding rate against 15th on the defensive boards.

Gasol isn't dominant like Randolph, but is helpful, averaging eight per game and pulling down 18.9 percent on the defensive glass.

The Spaniard was aggressive in the last two games, grabbing more than 30 percent of available defensive rebounds in both contests.

Those offset relatively normal work on that end by Randolph, with rates between 15 and 20 percent.

The Grizz had much greater success with the pair clawing away at the boards than when they weren't. Their party on the boards led to a 45-28 advantage in Game 4. When they combined for six rebounds in Game 1, the Clippers out-rebounded the Grizzlies 48-23.

Indeed, the Grizzlies could fight on with one of the two succeeding. Randolph could hit shots and rebound, while Gasol helps Mike Conley facilitate. Conversely, Gasol could work his magic knocking down jumpers from various angles while Randolph cleans the glass.

However, Randolph can't carry the scoring load that he once did. He only took 14.1 shots per 36 minutes this season, 1.6 fewer than in 2010-11. Having Gasol work around his shooting woes means giving a less efficient scorer the ball to make up for the loss.

Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal marveled via Twitter about how Gasol came on strong in the second half of Sunday's rout.

That Gasol is turning it up is terrific.

Still, the Grizz will go deeper with both attacking hard. They nearly knocked off the Thunder in the conference semifinals two years ago with the two combining for 38.5 points and 22.6 rebounds per game. With Randolph and Gasol rocking opposing frontcourts with balanced scoring around them, a deep playoff run could be in store.