After a loss to the Heat on Friday snapped Memphis’ win streak at six games, the Grizzlies managed to get revenge on the other side of the home-and-home series. It looked early on like Saturday might be Friday all over again, with Memphis giving up 31 points in the first quarter. But the Grizz managed to right the ship in the second, and entered the half with a modest lead.
The second half was touch and go the entire way before the Grizzlies opened a decent lead late in the half and held off Miami’s assault late to claim a 110-107 victory. Memphis gets back in the win column, and all is right with the world. So, now, some quick observations. Let’s go!
Troy Williams is definitely the best Troy on the Grizzlies
Last night, with James Ennis out, Coach Fizdale tapped Troy Daniels, the offseason acquisition who couldn’t find his way onto the floor for most of the season, to start. When that strategy failed to produce positive results, Fizdale went with his other Troy to start on Saturday. (My theory is that Fizdale actually lost his glasses in the giveaway, then, due to blurred vision, accidentally scribbled the wrong name into the lineup.)
The change in Troys worked out pretty well for Memphis. Williams finished the game with 18 points in 35 minutes, shooting 6-12 from the field and 2-5 from beyond the arc, with 3 rebounds and this beautiful assist:
This dude ouchea throwing no look passes. https://t.co/8HiyQauAfY— Matt Hrdlicka (@theRealHrdlicka) November 27, 2016
In addition to the scoring he provided, Williams also provided an almost Allen-like energy boost. Williams hustled in transition opportunities, putting pressure on Miami to get back. There was one opportunity in particular when Williams sprinted out after a TA steal for what looked like a surefire dunk. The dunk didn’t happen, but Williams did at least manage to draw the foul. Williams provided great plays like that all night, and was a big contributor in a close win.
With Ennis out, it’d be nice to see Williams get more playing time. After his hot preseason that forced the team to part ways with Jordan Adams, Williams continues to play at a high level, and the Grizzlies will need that sort of energy while their starting wings recover.
Defensive Breakdowns are Back
Following the loss to Milwaukee, it looked like a long film session had cured a lot of the Grizzlies’ defensive issues. The Grizzlies promptly reeled off six straight wins, including back-to-back victories in which they allowed less than 72 points. The defense looked like, at the very least, it was going to be dependable for the rest of the season.
Saturday in Miami didn’t look like that. There were communication breakdowns everywhere, players not knowing when to switch, and the end result was a lot of open looks for the Heat. If Memphis wants to compete this season for a high playoff seed, they’re going to need to get back to the defense that keyed their win streak.
I think it’s also worth noting that the defensive issues have started to reappear right after James Ennis went down. Ennis might not have been a defensive stalwart, but I think his loss really disrupts the chemistry of the starting lineup. He’s going to be out for a little while, so it’ll be interesting to see what Fizdale does to correct the issues Memphis has had over the past 2-3 games.
The Grizzlies will always play close games forever
The Grizzlies looked like they were going to pull away at one point in this game but then they didn’t and it ended up being a three-point victory. We all should’ve seen this coming but every game will be close forever for this team. Also, they are the kryptonite for pythagorean win-loss predictions.
Next Up: Buzz City
The Grizzlies close out their season series with the Charlotte Hornets in FedExForum on Monday night, with a chance to sweep an Eastern Conference team that started out but has tailed off lately.