Welp, last night was a disaster.
The Grizzlies got smacked by the Indiana Pacers 111-83. It was not at all how the Grizzlies wanted to start the season. The team flat out got outplayed, outhustled, and outworked. Luckily, it is only one game. There are 81 contests left, and in all reality, the Grizzlies were underdogs in the season opener anyway. No need to overreact about the whole season quite yet.
However, this game showed some glaring holes on the Grizzlies that will have to be corrected or else schemed around by Bickerstaff and the coaching staff. The most glaring numbers from the night that stood out the most was the points in the paint disparity. The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies in the paint 60-16.
There really isn’t much to say after seeing that. The Pacers used the paint at will, and the Grizzlies had no interest at all to step up their interior defense. Also, being outrebounded 57-28 says a lot about how the night is going as well. The team is going to have to take a look at what all went wrong in their defense while changing their effort in the process.
Now, to team grades.
Mike Conley- C
Conley had a rough opening to the season. He had an off night shooting the ball scoring 11 points, but only on 3-11 from the field. His assists were down as well having three at the end of the night. The 29.8% team shooting percentage for the game definitely does not do the assist totals any favors. Everyone struggled shooting, which makes it hard for Conley to get others involved. He will see some criticism after any blowout because he is a leader on and off the floor. Last year, it was only Gasol getting the brunt of these questions, but Conley needs to be ready to answer for any team issues.
Garrett Temple- B
Right before half, Temple busted out and hit three 3’s which seemed like the only bright spot from the first half. It was promising to first see him get in the starting lineup, and then showing he can spot up when needed. In the second half, he tried to get the whole offense going single handily. Unfortunately, he could not get going ending his night shooting 4-13 and 12 points. Not ideal, but some signs for hope.
Chandler Parsons- D
Oh, Mr. Parsons. Bickerstaff gave him the nod that surprised some. He had the chance to quickly prove the critics wrong out of the gate this season. Parsons played 23 minutes and scored six points shooting 3-9 from the field and 0-5 from behind the arc. What needs to be discussed is the defense of the wings in last night’s game. The reason the points in the paint total was so high is that the simple pick and roll was exploiting the Grizzlies time and time again. Whether it was no communication or a lack of lateral movements recovering after the switch, this was the most concerning aspect of this game. It is not just on Parsons, but Temple and JaMychal Green as well.
JaMychal Green- F
Speaking of JaMychal, Domantas Sabonis had no business going off for a huge night ending with 14 points and 15 rebounds, especially the rebounds. Offensively, JaM had a mediocre night. Nine points, seven rebounds. It was a classic JaMychal Green night. But, in continuation of the defensive review, Green has got to communicate better on switches at the top of the key. Too many times he was blown by after the screen took the on-ball defender away. Then the paint was clear for a driving layup past JaMychal. It will be something Green and his teammates will have to work on going forward.
Marc Gasol- C-
First and foremost, after that scare when Gasol left the game, it is good to know that Gasol is OK. That moment had most Grizzlies fans praying nothing was serious after he checked out of the game. Last night was a tough one again for Gasol, as his struggles continue to carry over from the preseason. He went 2-11 from the field scoring 13 points with six rebounds as well. Not very impressive for the first game with a healthy roster, but it is still early. What is a concern is the rebounding in the paint that he directly can impact. It isn’t his style to get dirty and battle for boards each possession, but he is going to have to figure out something because giving up 13 offensive boards and a -29 in the rebound category is unacceptable.
The Bench- C
Bickerstaff went all the way into the bench because of the score at the end of this one. He played Jaren Jackson Jr., Kyle Anderson, Shelvin Mack, and MarShon Brooks all at least 19 minutes.
There is one name that is not mentioned and really no one can figure out why he didn’t play more. That is Dillon Brooks. Brooks was an absolute stud for a weak roster last season and proved himself to play more this season with the veterans around him. Maybe Bickerstaff got tired of the youth movement last season, but Brooks needs to be playing more minutes than MarShon Brooks. Brooks played 22 minutes and shot 2-9 from the field with nine points. Unlike so many Grizzlies fans, I do not think MarShon Brooks is the answer for bench points. I would much rather see a facilitator and 100x better defender like Dillon Brooks in those minutes. Hopefully, Bickerstaff will come to his senses soon.
Finally, Jaren Jackson Jr. He has to be brought up in his first ever NBA game. It is exciting times for Grizzlies fans to see this kid out there battling in meaningful games. The first takeaway I had from his performance is that he is going to have to get physical down in the low post for scoring and rebounding purposes. He was out-rebounded time and time again just getting bullied by the big men for Indiana which partially resulted in the exaggerated rebounding numbers. Hopefully this will change after he gets some real minutes logged. Jackson finished the game playing 25 minutes scoring 10 points on 2-6 shooting with five rebounds.
After that train wreck, the team has a great opportunity to rebound (figuratively and literally) in their home opener Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks look to be the team that will be in a constant state of tanking all season, so this is essentially a must-win game in the first game back in FedExForum.