This is how the Grizzlies’ defense makes life miserable for opponents
Three clips that show the Grizzlies’ defensive communication in action.
The Grizzlies aren’t a nightmare to play just because they physically beat you up. They are a nightmare to play against because they know exactly what you do well offensively and work together to shut it off.
The Warriors are ball movement savants, as you’ve surely read. They use passing to tilt defenses and leverage the threat of each player to create openings to cut backdoor or generate open perimeter shots. But Memphis’ defense is so coordinated that the Warriors constantly needed to go to backup options in Wednesday’s 105-98 Grizzlies win.
Witness this play at the end of the first half, for example. The Warriors love having Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry run under the basket, then set screens for each other to pop open to the wing. It’s a deadly play because teams never want to leave either guy open for either a second. Watch how the Grizzlies coordinate switches here.
That’s textbook communication from Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen and it saves the Grizzlies from an open Thompson three.
Memphis’ pick and roll defense was on point too. Notice how they prevent the top two options in this sequence: Thompson getting an open shot off a double staggered screen and Marreese Speights fading to his favorite spot on the left side of the floor.
You’ll also want to watch how Gasol shuts down what should be a backdoor cut and layup for Curry by helping off his man on the other side of the court.
The Warriors actually scored on that possession and got layups from Draymond Green and Speights, respectively, on the previous two. But those two players weren’t prepared to score in that matter and thus rushed the shots, which both missed.
Memphis is fine with Green and Speights trying to go one on one against them so long as the primary threats — Curry, Thompson, etc. — are shut off. That’s what makes its defense so good.
(All screenshots via ESPN)