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Week-side Help: Week 6 - Highs and Lows

From 1st place in the West to watching a double-digit lead against the Knicks transform into a loss, here’s recapping a roller-coaster week in Grizzlies basketball

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Week 6 Results

Dallas Mavericks 88 @ Memphis Grizzlies 98 (11-5) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 104 (12-5) @ San Antonio Spurs 103 Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 107 (12-6) @ Los Angeles Clippers 112 (OT) Recap | Box Score

New York Knicks 103 @ Memphis Grizzlies 98 (12-7) Recap | Box Score

Week 6 Storylines

-Memphis splits the week and goes 2-2, dropping to fifth in the Western Conference standings.

-The Grizzlies are looking increasingly likely to add Joakim Noah to the roster, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania

-Required Reading: GBB’s Parker Fleming is excited about Memphis basketball: Tigers and Grizzlies. Here’s how both programs finally intersected to be cool at the same time. | ESPN’s Tim MacMahon talked to former Grizzlies coach and current Knicks coach David Fizdale and Grizzlies C Marc Gasol about their relationship and how they’ve interacted since Fizdale’s firing.

Week 6 Thoughts

-So I can’t tell if what I’m about to say is controversial or the most obvious thing on the planet: Jaren Jackson Jr is the third best player on the Memphis Grizzlies. Garrett Temple and Shelvin Mack are probably more useful right now and more productive, but JJJ’s talent is getting harder and harder to ignore.

-I came away from Mavs-Grizz convinced that Jaren Jackson Jr might be the best prospect from his draft class. Maybe Luka Dončić or Trae Young end up being better at what they do, but what JJJ provides is so unique. The ball-handling and defensive versatility at this age is mega impressive. Going up against Luka, he had a stretch of plays that had me excited for the 2020’s. I think Luka Dončić is going to be incredible. He’s incredible already, so I don’t want that analysis to be a knock against Luka. I just think JJJ has been great and proved himself time and time again.

-He’s been great since becoming a starter. Not sure if there is a metric to measure this exactly, but anecdotally at least, he looks to be getting better and better defensively.

-Memphis definitely eked out their win in San Antonio. A one-point game always has a few moments that, if they occurred in a slightly different way, could have changed the outcome. Memphis got really lucky that most of those moments tended to bounce their way, like the foul on Marc Gasol that gave Memphis the lead with his free throws and the non-call on LaMarcus Aldridge on the following play. If Memphis was on the wrong end of that, we’d be calling for those refs’ heads on spikes. But Memphis won, so let’s just keep quiet about all this nonsense and be happy we got the dub.

-Aaaaaand that luck runs out against the Clippers. Understandable to be frustrated with inconsistent or missed calls from referees, but complaining about refs is loser talk. Especially when we benefited from bad officiating the game prior. Mike Conley probably shouldn’t have fouled out, but these things just kind of...even out.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

-Memphis defense continues to impress me. It seems the only players Memphis added this offseason (or return in the case of Mike Conley) are all decent-to-good defenders. Heading into Sunday’s game, they had the third best defensive rating in the Association and its easy to see why.

-They force turnovers at the third-highest rate and force other teams to play at their place, the slowest in the league. 14 teams average 100 possessions a game compared to Memphis’ last place 95.3, yet there was only instance where Memphis allowed more than 100 possessions in a game: a 131-117 victory over the Hawks who play at the fastest pace in the league.

-Sorry that I referred to the NBA as “the Association” a couple of thoughts ago. I’ve officially become that guy. I’m sorry.

-It looked like Memphis was going to cruise to a victory against New York last night, but the third quarter happened and flipped the game immediately. Enes Kanter with 21 points and 22 rebounds in the first three quarters is an absolute backbreaker.

-And the fourth quarter against New York helps prove my first point about Jaren Jackson. Finally got some run during crunch time and he’s absolutely earned it. Seven blocks from a 19 year old including some great shooting such as several contested three-pointers.

-Mike Conley did a looooot for Memphis in the New York game and he just ran out of gas. He’s been carrying this team on his back for years and this was another game where he brought it and others didn’t, offensively. There wasn’t a single field goal by a non-Conley Grizzlies player after Marc Gasol’s layup with 6:58 left in the fourth until Gasol got a goaltended layup...with 24 seconds left. Just inexcusable if you want to win.

-A really inconsistent week from Memphis, color me shocked. A convincing win against Dallas, a nail-biter win against the Spurs, a convincing loss to the Knicks, and a nail-biter loss to the Clippers. The losses were frustrating, but they don’t seem like losses that will carry over. I mean, how many times is Enes Kanter going to threaten posting a 30-30?!

Week 7 Schedule and Preview

Toronto Raptors @ Memphis Grizzlies Tues. Nov. 27th, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Brooklyn Nets Fri. Nov. 30th, 7:30 PM ET/6:30 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Philadelphia 76ers Sun. Dec. 2nd, 6:00 PM ET/5:00 PM CT

A legitimately juicy slate of games. Caris Levert’s injury is really disappointing for a lot of reasons and takes some of the luster from the Nets game (I never thought I’d ever type those words together), but overall an entertaining week!

Memphis starts with arguably the best team in the league, Toronto. I know Golden State exists, but Toronto has been killing it this season. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t skipped a beat and it’s incredible that Danny Green was just thrown in the trade to match salaries. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are a lot better than DeMar DeRozan and O.G. Anunoby, the latter they still have bothering opposing wing players! But Memphis is apparently good now, too, so this could be a really fun game.

Again, it’s unfortunate that Levert got injured in a year where he looked poised to break out. But the Nets are still frisky and dare I say: not bad. One of the first years in a while where they’ve looked average at least and it’s refreshing to see. A bad organization changed its culture with a plan and by sticking to that plan. Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks seem to be a great coach/GM combination and Jarrett Allen is just so fun to watch (while being good, too). This is going to be tough for Memphis with such contrasting styles of play, but it’ll be entertaining.

And to cap off the week, Memphis gets the new and improved Jimmy Butler experience against Philadelphia. The Sixers are fresh off a huge game winner from Butler, who has now hit two game winning threes in five games as a Sixer (that’s a lot of numbers). He’s injected some life into a team that looked a little stagnant after surprising the league last year. Their defense hasn’t been as good as it was a year ago, and they traded away an All-NBA defender in Robert Covington. But those are the sacrifices you make to add an All-Star in his prime. Luckily for Philadelphia, it looks like it’s working out for them. Unluckily for Memphis, we have to play them.

Have a good week, Memphis.

Follow @sbnGrizzlies