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Week-side Help: Week 5 - Hey, The Grizzlies Are Good!(?)

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A huge week for the standings, Jaren Jackson Jr., Shelvin Mack, and much more in this weekly recap.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Week 5 Results

Utah Jazz 96 @ Memphis Grizzlies 88 (7-5) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 116 (8-5) @ Milwaukee Bucks 113 Recap | Box Score

Sacramento Kings 104 @ Memphis Grizzlies 112 (9-5) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 100 (10-5) @ Minnesota Timberwolves 87 Recap | Box Score

Week 5 Storylines

-An MRI revealed a left knee strain for G/F Dillon Brooks. He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.

-Memphis’ 3-1 week propels them into the thick of the playoff race, with Memphis just being 1 game out from the top seed in the West

-JaMychal Green made his return to action Sunday against the Timberwolves. He notched 8 points and 8 rebounds in 21 minutes in the victory.

Required Reading: GBB’s Nathan Chester asks (and answers) the question we’re all asking after an incredible start: is Memphis’ hot start sustainable? | GBB’s Patrick Graziosi with a great piece looking, searching, hunting for any additional offensive firepower on the Grizzlies to take their game to the next level.

Week 5 Thoughts

-Going to start with us: I was as wrong as you could get about this Memphis team. Maybe they regress and end up winning 33 games like I predicted, but those are extremely slim odds. Memphis isn’t just winning squeakers, they’re actually handily coming away with victories. Against good teams no less!

-Marc Gasol and JB Bickerstaff have been maligned by me, the latter more so for how and why he got the head coaching position. But this year so far? They’ve been great. Marc is motivated and that has such a tangible effect on his play and the play of those around him. Bickerstaff has done nothing this year but reaffirm his role and great fit for this franchise. Memphis is 10-5 through 15 games and that’s an amazing start for the second-worst team in the league a year ago.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

-Although, it is hard to win games where you score four points in the first 6:12 of the game like Memphis did against Utah. That’s just my opinion.

-It was probably expecting too much to think the Grizzlies would beat the Jazz three times this early in the season. It felt like that the Jazz figured out Memphis offensively and it showed. Memphis posted their 2nd-worst offensive rating (92.9) of the year against Utah, their only worse performance being the opening-night shellacking from the Pacers.

-The Milwaukee victory was extremely impressive, even though it was a one-possession game that could have ended much differently. Memphis not only had a lead for the majority of the game (38:22 out of 48 minutes the Grizzlies lead the Bucks), but they had comfortable leads, including being up 13 with 1:58 left in the third quarter that shrunk to a four point lead by the end of the frame.

-But still, to go into the home of the team with the best net rating in the NBA and an undefeated home record and come out with a win is huge.

-Watching the offense work, it seems like ball movement has been so much better this year than last. It feels like a natural progression with Mike Conley back healthy and Shelvin Mack proving to be a more than capable backup.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

-Speaking of Mack, he’s been truly great in his role this season. I was skeptical when we signed him originally and skeptical when he had a tough first couple of games, but he’s been a huge factor in our bench’s offensive success.

-He’s shooting more field goal attempts and three-point attempts per game than he ever has, partly because he’s also playing a career-high minutes (26.4 per game as of Sunday). What’s impressive is that he’s taken more shots than ever and hitting them at a higher clip than ever, shooting a career-high 50.9% from the field and 46.3% on threes. I’m not sure if he can keep up that blistering three-pointer rate, but it’s been great for us so far, and so has Mack.

-Memphis started the game against Sacramento on a 15-2 run, and then promptly was on the wrong end of a 15-2 run immediately afterwards. Who says this team isn’t balanced?

-Jaren Jackson Jr.’s big game against Sacramento is going to be a moment we look back on when his career takes flight. Seriously, he’s so good, let alone for his age. 27 points and 6 rebounds might not pop in an era with truly astonishing stats, but it’s the way he got those 27 points. Grabbing a long rebound, dribbling between his legs and attacking Nemanja Belicia towards the rim was incredibly impressive for someone his size, and again, HIS AGE.

-Boston fans, I’m sorry you were ever made fun of for constantly proclaiming “He’s only 19!” anytime Jayson Tatum did a thing. Because I’m going to do that for Jaren Jackson Jr. all season, and probably next season even though he will be 20 by then.

-Memphis beat Sacramento. Oh wait what’s this? It appears I accidentally dropped the link to a story about how the Kings management might have some dysfunction. How clumsy of me.

-The Grizzlies effort against Minnesota was okay, nothing spectacular, except for Marc Gasol and his incredible fourth quarter. He scored 11 of his 26 points in the fourth with three huge three-pointers down the stretch. He made Karl-Anthony Towns look silly on several occasions, which was satisfying to see to say the least.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

-They were also probably bailed out by an ugly offensive performance by the Timberwolves. Andrew Wiggins was at Peak Andrew Wiggins...6-18 from the field, 1-4 on threes, and 1-2 from the free throw line. A bad game and no one else really stepped up to compensate. A good defensive effort by the Grizzlies, as well.

Week 6 Schedule

Dallas Mavericks @ Memphis Grizzlies Mon. Nov. 19th, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ San Antonio Spurs Weds. Nov. 21st 8:30 PM ET/7:30 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Los Angeles Clippers Fri. Nov. 23rd, 3:30 PM ET/2:30 PM CT

New York Knicks @ Memphis Grizzlies Sun. Nov. 25th, 6:00 PM ET/5:00 PM CT

So we play Dallas, San Antonio, and the Clippers, yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s cool, but David Fizdale makes his return to Memphis on Sunday.

I don’t know what reaction he’ll get from the home crowd, but I hope it is supportive one. He was a great voice on issues that Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr get a lot of public credit for, and Fiz wasn’t a bad coach either. His mortal sin was not playing Marc Gasol in the 4th quarter of a December game against the Nets. The punishment probably did not fit that specific crime (although there was drama leading up to that moment), and I really hope he has success in New York.

Okay, back to those games I poo-pooed earlier. On Monday, Memphis gets its first close-up look at Luka Dončić, who’s definitely lived up to the hype. None of the top-5 rookies have looked too bad so far, but Luka looked like a pro from the beginning. Maybe because he actually played professional basketball before he came to the NBA. He’s averaging 19.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.2 assists a night on a .581 true shooting percentage, but he’s just not athletic enough to keep up!!! (I need to emphasize as much as possible how much sarcasm was in the last part of that sentence.)

NBA: Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, both the Spurs and Clippers seem to be tough matchups, especially with the latter being a noon local time start the day after Thanksgiving. Honestly, I wouldn’t blame either team for trying to play in sweatpants while laying at half-court.

This week will be our first look at the Spurs post-Kawhi. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge have quietly been one of the better duos in the league, even if the team’s record doesn’t exactly match up. They’re hovering around .500 with a negative net rating heading into Sunday, and frankly, Memphis has played better than San Antonio this season. But I am never going to assume a victory against a Gregg Popovich coached team.

Have a good week, Memphis.

Follow @sbnGrizzlies