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The Week-side Help: Week 8 - Now What?

Memphis snaps an 11 game skid, then falls back into their old ways in this edition of The Week-side Help

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Week 8 Results

Minnesota Timberwolves 92 @ Memphis Grizzlies 95 (8-15) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 88 (8-16) @ New York Knicks 99 Recap | Box Score

Toronto Raptors 116 @ Memphis Grizzlies 107 (8-17) Recap | Box Score

Oklahoma City Thunder 102 @ Memphis Grizzlies 101 (OT) (8-18) Recap | Box Score

Week 8 Storylines

-Memphis won a basketball game.

-Just one, though.

Week 8 Thoughts

-Fun fact: that win on Monday was the first win for the Memphis Grizzlies since 2010.

-Even though Memphis did actually get a victory, it was a 3-point win in a tight late-game situation, which isn’t helpful at all in figuring out what the heck this team is. Memphis basketball!

-However, Memphis played some of their best defense in weeks against Minnesota. Holding Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jimmy Butler to a combined 49 points on 43% shooting is a huge key to beating Minnesota. KAT’s been a prolific offense player his entire young career and he was shooting blanks on Monday night.

-And, for the first time, Memphis’ offense wasn’t completely inept when the defense was good!

-The very next game, the offense was back to being inept. After a huge first quarter against the Knicks, the Grizzlies stumbled and bumbled their way to scoring just 56 points in the next 3 quarters, posting an ugly 35% FG percentage in that span.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New York Knicks Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

-Marc Gasol had a serious scare after a non-contact injury in New York, but still came back to play 34 minutes. Big Spain has had foot problems in the past, so yours truly assumed the worst when he landed in immediate pain. His self-awareness about going immediately to the locker room when it happened made it seem even more dire, but if he’s healthy enough to play I admire him dealing with the pain at least.

-Which, should give him license to say other players aren’t trying their best. After the loss to the Raptors on Friday Marc said the team didn’t have the urgency or effort needed after you lose 12 of 13 games. He’s probably right; this team’s effort has been inconsistent and disappears at the worst times. And Marc Gasol is the team’s only active leader with Conley sidelined. If any player were to call out his team to media, Gasol would have the juice to do so. But this leaves a bad taste in my mouth for a few reasons.

-Marc Gasol is the most plodding player on this roster. His on-court frustrations seep into dumb basketball decisions and checking out defensively. He’s quite possibly the only Memphis player who doesn’t want to run in transition and the only one who still sticks to the Grit and Grind offensive mentality, save for a relatively new 3-point shot. He’s been inconsistent and moody all year and that alongside a terrible losing streak led to extremely unfavorable circumstances for David Fizdale. Marc’s going to be accused of being a coach killer and a bad teammate with his outburst after one (1) benching. To hear Marc Gasol complain about teammates’ urgency or care this season was eyeroll-inducing. He may want to be the voice of reason now that there is a power vacuum with the coach gone and the other star injured, but it would seem to fall on deaf ears considering the messenger.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

-Remember before the season when we were arguing between Mario Chalmers, Wade Baldwin, and Andrew Harrison as to who should be the backup point guard? Well, it turns out none of them should be.

-The Thunder were just begging Memphis to win that game. The Thunder didn’t have Paul George while Russell Westbrook shot 7-29 from the field. OKC looked like they were unraveling would lose yet another game in the clutch. Memphis would refuse to allow OKC to look bad, being the proper gentlemen that they are.

Official Permanent Lottery Watch Update of the Week

12/10 NBA Lottery

Memphis has now climbed to the 4th spot of the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery. It’s still early to make definitive proclamations about the draft, but it looks like there about 5 elite prospects in the top tier next June. Memphis is slowly creeping up into the #1 spot, where they are just 2.5 games behind a team that had one starter break another starter’s jaw right before the season started.

Best Week 8 Performance:

Ben McLemore vs OKC, 17 pts (6-10 FG, 5-7 3P), 4 reb, +15 +/-

There wasn’t much to McLemore’s game against OKC other than “shoot” but he was in quite the rhythm that he hasn’t shown all year. In the 5 games before this performance, McLemore went 4-8 from three-point land, fairly toothless for someone whose role is to simply shoot threes. Throughout the entire season, McLemore only shot 27% from three before Saturday’s tilt and his scoring outburst bumped his season’s mark to 34%.

I highly doubt this is the new Ben McLemore, or that he’s hit a switch that will lead to him giving us 15 points and 3 threes a night. But, he can take baby steps towards being a reliable option for any of the playmakers on this team to dish to after a drive. Just no more 360’s, please.

Play of the Week

New segment! Considering my irrational love for Andrew Harrison and my completely rational and correct disdain for Russell Westbrook, seeing Andrew block Russ at the end of regulation and then talk smack afterwards warmed my heart. I don’t give a single solitary dang or heck about who won the game. This was the best play of the season for the Grizzlies, and the video of which should be sent to the Naismith Hall of Fame to show the youngins in the future what basketball looked like at its peak.

Week 8 Grade: D

Memphis got a win, but does it matter anymore? A win after 11 losses in-a-row feels like a Super Bowl, but the win itself was ugly. And the progress made up with that win was erased with reality striking losses, including getting swept in a home back-to-back. Memphis has yet to look good for an entire 48 minute run since October, and it’s getting formulaic. If Memphis gets a big lead after the 1st quarter/half, then it will revert to being a close game in the last 2 minutes of the ballgame. If they are down at the half, or even the end of the third, expect the Grizz to rally enough to turn a hopeless venture into a contest. It is admirable, but damn is it frustrating.

Week 9 Schedule and Preview

Miami Heat @ Memphis Grizzlies Mon. 12/11 (Tonight!)

Memphis Grizzlies @ Washington Wizards Weds. 12/13

Atlanta Hawks @ Memphis Grizzlies Fri. 12/15

Boston Celtics @ Memphis Grizzlies Sat. 12/16

Do you have plans this Friday night? You should start thinking about making plans. If your TV is showing Atlanta vs Memphis basketball this Friday night it will start to emit radiation and kill you. For your safety, do not watch this game. There is no need. There are 82 games. DNP-Rest yourself for the more important ones.

This entire week is against Eastern Conference teams, so tiebreakers aren’t really at play here. However, these are fresh match-ups for Memphis this season being the first time they meet any of these opponents.

Meanwhile, the Wizards have shown that they are basically the same team from a year ago. All of their core pieces are probably at their peak and their salary cap is locked up for the next couple of years. You know what you’re going to get from the Wizards on a night-to-night basis now-a-days. They have been without John Wall, but it looks like Wall will be making his return against the Grizzlies.

The game against the Boston Celtics will be a really good test for the Grizzlies. Boston plays some of the smartest basketball in the league and they’ve been the best defensive team thus far. If Memphis can look good against them and impose any type of will on them offensively, it could be considered a success. However, the Celtics will also be on the second night of a back-to-back as are the Grizzlies, who are the home team. That’s enough of a funky situation where the Grizzlies could theoretically win, which is more likely than an actual win.

Have a good week, Memphis.

Follow @sbnGrizzlies