Soft just get's used way too much. The guy lacks some defensive fundamentals, it's not that he's scared of trying to fight for position, it's that he doesn't do it. Gasol isn't scoring when he does because he's getting too close to the basket, Gasol is scoring because the guards aren't doing a good job in containing Conley, and Gasol is getting open shots on the pick and pop.
Has nothing to do with being soft, has all to do with him having no clue how to guard a perimeter big man. Though Kaman could shoot, Clippers have never had a big man with similar skills to Gasol for DJ to be guarding in practice. He has no clue how to keep his hand in his shot pocket, and when he tries to guard the shot, he plays too close, and Gasol puts the ball on the floor and head jerks his way into a foul call.
Do you see the way ZBo gets Blake out of the post? He gets his body in there and pushes Blake out to the 3pt line. DJ doesn't put a body on Gasol and gets outmuscled whether or not Gasol flops. That is the very definition of soft.
Last game, Gasol played 42 minutes and DJ played 17, he played 60% of his minutes with DJ on the bench.
Here are Gasol's scoring numbers over the first 3 games:
16 pts, 33.3% FG, 11 FTA, .475 TS%, 40:54 mins
17 pts, 42.9% FG, 6 FTA, .511 TS%, 43:42 mins
16 pts, 46.2% FG, 8 FTA, .484 TS%, 36:00 mins
16.3 pts, 41.0% FG, 8.3 FTA, .490 TS%, 40.2 mins
Jordan's minutes over first 3 games:
Jordan playing less minutes has not correlated to decreased performance by Gasol in this series. In fact, like I mentioned before, Gasol's best game came with him playing 60% of his minutes with Jordan on the bench.
Gasol has been most deadly, not in the one on one mid-post iso's and shooting fadeaway jumpshots or hook shots, but actually his greatest effectiveness has come from assisted pick and pop jumpshots and from getting to the line.
Gasol is 10/17 in the series from 16-23 feet, and 90% (9/10) of those are assisted. He's 3/14 from 10-15 feet, and 66.7% (2/3) of those were assisted. He's only made 2 shots at the time, he's 2/4 there. When he's creating his own shot from 10-15, he hasn't been that effective as a shooter, but has been when driving. He's also 3/10 on hook shots in the series, with 33% assisted. Now he's also been good on his jumpshots from 3-9 feet. So keeping him closer to mid-post and making him create is the most effective defense.
Of course the FT shooting was an issue, he was getting the line too much, the Grizzlies as a whole have killed the Clippers at the line, +8 attempts/game and leading the playoffs in FT/FGA, but his field shooting and total efficiency has not been good in the games where DJ played a lot. He hit some annoying shots, but overall, 16.3 PPG in 40.2 mins on .490 TS% over the first 3 games was good defense on his scoring.
When DJ plays him too close, he drives and flails his head and gets to the line. When DJ gives him a little cushion, but get's him to put his back to the basket and make moves, he's actually been much less effective in this series. When DJ plays ice on the pick and roll ball handler, and Gasol is left open in the middle of the floor, that's an automatic basket.
How can the Clippers guard that better? Paul has always been weak at getting over screens, Bledsoe is much better. Bledsoe on Conley would probably help as it will allow the big to not have to get drawn so far away from Gasol on the pick and pop.
Rotating off Tony Allen who is a non shooter is the other option. With their starting lineup, the Grizzlies don't have good spot up 3PT shooters, so rotating off Allen or Prince and giving up a long mid-range jumpshot is actually a good defensive strategy.