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The Week-side Help: Week 5 - The Wheels Are Off

Recapping a disastrous, newsworthy, and even more disastrous week for the Memphis Grizzlies

NBA: Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Week 5 Results

Memphis Grizzlies 103 (7-6) @ Milwaukee Bucks 110 Recap | Box Score

Indiana Pacers 116 @ Memphis Grizzlies 113 (7-7) Recap | Box Score

Houston Rockets 105 @ Memphis Grizzlies 83 (7-8) Recap | Box Score

Week 5 Storylines:

-Memphis goes 0-3 on the week, increasing the losing streak to 4 games

-Memphis announced Mike Conley will undergo rest and treatment for his sore heel and Achilles and will be re-evaluated in “approximately two weeks” | GBB’s own Brandon Conner explains why it’s not the end of the world and how the rest will help Conley

-JaMychal Green made his return from his ankle injury in Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers. He finished with 8 points in 17 minutes.

-Deyonta Davis and Jarell Martin were assigned to the G-League Memphis Hustle and reassigned to the active roster in a 2 day span. | Be sure to check out The Hustle Report from GBB’s own Brandon Abraham on all the happenings with the Memphis Hustle.

-Wayne Selden and Brandan Wright were injured. Selden reaggravated his quad injury while Wright suffered a groin injury during the Houston game. Their future status is unknown at this time.

Week 5 Breakdowns

-Mike Conley getting this time off should have been expected. He never missed consecutive games, but missed a seemingly random game to rest his sore Achilles. We should have known having one (1) day off probably isn’t enough to magically solve your injury woes. He wasn’t at 100% this year and wasn’t playing near that level, hopefully the time off will provide a reset to Mike, who should be building off of his career year from 16-17, not bricking thoughtless threes.

-The team is currently 0-3 without Mike Conley. I have had faith in Memphis’ ability to play without a star in spots, but this is discouraging. Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol can carry the team offensively if they’re both on, but the defense is an entire team issue that needs to be fixed to do well without Mike.

-One week I complain about the offense because the defense looks good and they’re being let down. The next, I’ll complain about the defense looking like an AAU team when the offense is finally hitting their shots. I don’t know what this team will ever do. It’s fine.

-After starting 5-1, the Grizzlies are 2-7 since. These fluctuations are why every declaration I try to make until Christmas is attached with “it’s still super early.” It’s not to discredit anything happening or that has happened, but a reminder there’s plenty of time to be wrong about everything.

-Fizdale continues to change up the rotation. Chandler Parsons got his first start on Saturday after performing well against the Rockets all season. It was also an effort to jumpstart a team that’s been lost recently. Parsons had a great night himself (team-high 17 points on 7-9 shooting) and the offense started off hot before falling off. Parsons’ two highest scoring outputs this season have both come against the Houston Rockets.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

-Jarell Martin’s time on the active roster seemed to end when JaMychal Green came back. Jarell has a lot of athleticism and effort, but not much else. I think he improved a bit and showed defensive flashes, but nothing sustained. I hope he learns and improves a lot with the Hustle if he can’t get playing time with the Grizz. He could be useful for a team that doesn’t have any true PF’s instead of forcing players to play the position, so hopefully Jarell is back quick.

-Speaking of JaMychal Green, he is looking pretty good post-return. He’s been fitting in and switching well on defense. He was a little sloppy and out of rhythm on Wednesday against the Pacers, but he looked better and was able to play longer which is a good sign for his conditioning. I really want to see what JaMychal and Marc can look like together this year when they’re both in sync.

Best Week 5 Performance:

Marc Gasol vs IND (11/15)

39 mins, 35 pts (12-24 FG, 3-7 3P, 8-9 FT) 13 reb, 5 ast, 5 blk, 2 TO, 0 +/-

There was no way Tyreke was just gonna win this forever, right????

Well, I make the decisions around here: so yes, I am right.

This was a peak-Marc Gasol game. The Pacers only played two bigs: Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. Turner showed he might not be strong enough yet to guard the bigger match-ups and Sabonis was getting outworked on just about every post-up. Marc’s playmaking was really solid as well with Mike Conley gone. The offense wa going to run through Marc no matter what and he made the most of it. Memphis did not make the most of his awesome night and ended up losing to Indiana. Marc is super talented and capable of this night when he’s on, but it’s happened a total of two times in his career, last two years ago against New Orleans. And the game went to waste in a filthy loss.

His performance can be appreciated here, however. The Week-side Help: The Participation Trophy of Articles.

Numbers to Know

119.1- Memphis’ defensive rating in this past week’s three games. The worst defensive rating on the season is 112.4 by the Cleveland Cavaliers’ turnstile defense. The Memphis defense also allowed 47% shooting on 29.7 3-pointers a night in that time span, way higher than the 35 they’ve allowed on 30.1 3-pointers a night for the entire season. The Pacers and Rockets are fast-paced teams, but that percentage is inexcusable for a team that can’t compensate with 3-pointers of their own. The Memphis defense has been about slightly above-average to good this season and they’ve needed it for a mediocre offense. A mediocre offense with lifeless defense will send this team to the lottery in a heartbeat.

10.7%- James Ennis’ usage rate this season. Usage rate is the percentage of a team’s possessions end with a field goal attempt or turnover of a certain player. With 5 players on the court, the average usage rate should be roughly 20%. James Ennis is basically sacrificing half of his touches to the rest of the team. That low usage rate is a good explanation for his super efficient shooting numbers as well (.538/.345/.880). Every team needs a player like Ennis, who is going to play hard all game without needing the ball as much as others. I’d be fine with a decrease in accuracy numbers if it meant an increase in volume: the Memphis Grizzlies are the 6th least efficient spot-up shooting team, and Ennis could be taking a lot of the extra 3’s that Dillon Brooks has been taking.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Week 5 Grade: F

The losses were bad--disheartening, even. But they weren’t by far the worst stretch of Grizzlies’ losses we’ve seen. The reason the Grizzlies get an F however is for swinging and missing at an opportunity to bounce back.

The Bucks game was Memphis’ best effort and effort might be the wrong word to choose there. It was the last game of a 5-game road trip and they couldn’t compete for the entirety of the game with how tired they were. The Pacers game was supposed to finally be a chance to right all of the wrongs and iron out all the kinks from the road trip. The Grizzlies’ defensive problems then became exposed even further by letting Indiana get open shot after open shot.

Then, finally, Memphis got a chance to play the Rockets which could have done two things: win the season series/tiebreaker and build up some confidence with a good game. Neither happened.

Three winnable games were set up for the Memphis Grizzlies and they struck out on all three. That’s an F to me.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Week 6 Schedule and Preview:

Portland Trail Blazers @ Memphis Grizzlies Mon. 11/20 (Tonight!)

Dallas Mavericks @ Memphis Grizzlies Weds. 11/22

Memphis Grizzlies @ Denver Nuggets Fri. 11/24

Brooklyn Nets @ Memphis Grizzlies Sun. 11/26

A full Thanksgiving week of basketball with some interesting matchups for Memphis.

Games against Portland and Dallas are set to start the week for Memphis with some familiar opponents. The Grizzlies won in Portland in their only matchup and have so far split both games with the Dallas Mavericks. Portland has climbed to 2nd-place in the league in defensive rating and they’ve been playing really good basketball lately. They’re a top-5 team in most, if not all rebounding and 3-point shooting metrics which will make them tough to beat on any given night.

This Dallas team has not changed much since the last two games, though. In other words: still bad. But that makes them more likely to beat Memphis this week because this season is magically awful so far.

Denver and Brooklyn provide new matchups for Memphis year. Denver is a really fun team to watch with their offensive firepower. Their core is young, save for Paul Millsap, but they’re really good. Gary Harris is a great 3-and-D player at just 23, Jamal Murray shows superstar flashes at age 20(!), and Nikola Jokic is an offensive machine unto himself already at the age of 22. Their offense is particularly fun to watch considering the offense runs through their center, Jokic, who is one of the best passers in the league. Not for his position, but in the entire league. He’s really talented.

Meanwhile, what Brooklyn lacks in talent they make up for with smarts, effort, and style of play. Head Coach Kenny Atkinson doesn’t have Jeremy Lin or D’Angelo Russell for the time being and they still beat the Utah Jazz convincingly and gave Golden State a run for their money on Sunday night. They play the fastest pace in the league while jacking up a ton of threes. When you’re at a talent disadvantage, you can use the pace in two ways. You can grind the game out, create fewer possessions, and thus create fewer opportunities for the other team to come back or put the game away. Or, you can do what the Nets do, and play as fast as possible, shooting a ton of threes and running in transition to create as many possessions as possible to catch up with the numbers game of 3 > 2.

That’s how Brooklyn started their comeback on Sunday, and it’s how they’ll play Saturday no matter what the lead is.

Have a good week, Memphis.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Follow @sbnGrizzlies