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Week-side Help: Week 10 - Near Critical Mass

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Memphis’ losing ways are beginning to be too much and last week was a “shining” example of that

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Week 10 Results

Memphis Grizzlies 93 (16-14) @ Golden State Warriors 110 Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 92 (16-15) @ Portland Trail Blazers 99 Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 99 (16-16) @ Sacramento Kings 102 Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 107 (17-16) @ Los Angeles Lakers 99 Recap | Box Score

Week 10 Storylines

-Memphis continues to skid down the standings, losing 5 in a row before defeating the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. They went 1-3 on the week.

-Free agent G Austin Rivers was reportedly signing with Memphis, but that report was premature. Rivers will not be signing and has not received an offer from the team.

-Dillon Brooks made his return from a knee sprain against the Los Angeles Lakers. He played 12 minutes and notched 2 points.

-In other injury news, The Athletic’s and Stadium’s Shams Charania reported Sunday that Chandler Parsons has been cleared to play the Memphis medical staff, but Grizzlies management has decided to keep him as a healthy scratch for the foreseeable future.

Required Reading: The Grizzlies’ amazing defense this year has propelled them to wins this season. But when their offense isn’t working, it doesn’t matter much. GBB’s McCarty Maxwell reminds us that defense alone won’t take this team to the Finals. | Just in time for Christmas, Grizzly Bear Blues organized a round-table to discuss what the Memphis Grizzlies want (or need) for Christmas.

Week 10 Thoughts

-Okay, so maybe this isn’t the team of world-beaters some fans thought they were.

-A pattern emerged in this week’s slate of losses. That pattern is: “What the hell? Why are we losing this game?”

-Losing to the Warriors doesn’t exactly fit, but it was a convincing loss if there ever was one. Mike Conley didn’t play and no one on the Grizzlies thought it was a good idea to step up and help the team out...except for Omri Casspi. This was a revenge game for him, getting cut by Golden State midway through last season and missing out on the chance to play in his first playoff game and get a ring. He scored 20 points on 8-10 shooting (2-4 3P). Other than that, another day, another stagnant offense for Memphis.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

-“Fun” fact: Memphis has scored 100 points just twice in the month of December. Not in a very giving mood, I see. Both were wins, so they should keep doing that.

-Man, Shelvin Mack is looking awful as our backup PG right as Jevon Carter started to get some playing time. I thought Mack would regress a little with how incredible he played earlier in the year, but I didn’t think it would be this steep.

-In the 10 games before Sunday’s Lakers game, Mack has averaged just 6.8 points per game on a disgusting 34.8% field goal percentage. His average plus-minus in those games has been -8.7, rather telling for how his play hurt the team lately. The next time a multi-year veteran has a good two-week stretch, let’s trust the sample size of his entire career over those two weeks.

-What was the most heart-wrenching loss this week to you? I was torn between the Portland and Sacramento losses, but I am leaning towards the loss to the Trail Blazers as the most hurtful. Because I personally talk so much trash about the Trail Blazers, Memphis needs to beat them every time to defend my honor.

-The Blazers game just felt like a futile effort from Memphis. Once Portland took the lead in the third quarter, they never looked back.

-Memphis shot under 40% in the fourth quarter against the Trail Blazers AND in the fourth quarter against the Kings. That’s not going to cut into any lead (against the Trail Blazers) or keep any lead (against the Kings).

-What made that 4th-quarter performance even worse was the discrepancy between the Kings’ blistering offense and Memphis’ ball-control offense. Memphis was outscored 37-25

-So why did these games go so poorly, and when they went poorly, how did Memphis never recover? Part of the answer seems to be a reliance on bad lineups and rotations. I talked enough about Shelvin Mack, but JaMychal Green played a lot more than he should have for how bad he looked on the floor. Against Sacramento, JJJ dealt with foul trouble, making it slightly more understandable.

-It’s hard to repeat so much of my gripes about J.B. Bickerstaff’s rotations, but the issues just keep popping up. No need for grand statements this go around, but if Memphis wants to at least *pretend* to be a playoff team, they’ve got to cut out the stupid mental mistakes.

-Jaren Jackson Jr posted up, and scored on, LeBron James. That was very cool. He should do that more often. He had himself a great game against the Lakers. He topped off his 27 point performance with a crossover and three-pointer to seal the game against, who else, LeBron James. It’s amazing how more natural and smooth this team’s offense is when he is a focal point instead of being treated like James Ennis.

-Dillon Brooks, naturally, looked rusty against the Lakers in his first game back in well over a month. I hope he gets right soon as the Grizzlies really need to start caring about this playoff push. This season is quietly passing by quickly, and we’ll be at the midway point in just 7 games.

-On that note, this has been an untimely decision for the Grizzlies to decide to be bad all of a sudden. When they looked sneaky good a few weeks ago, there was some worry that the team was going to regress. Especially with how often we would win in October and November when Mike Conley and Marc Gasol didn’t play up to their usual standings.

-What does this mean? Well, Memphis is likely an average team, maybe below-average. But likely not a good playoff team. A defense that is consistent will keep them in games and get them more wins than they probably “deserve” so to speak. But the margin of error shrinks more and more with losses that shouldn’t be: blown leads, poor coaching decisions, and an ever-consistent paltry offense will continue to get in the way of this team by their own doing. A frustrating, but more likely reality for the 2018-2019 Memphis Grizzlies.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Week 11 Schedule and Preview

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Memphis Grizzlies Weds. Dec. 26, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Boston Celtics @ Memphis Grizzlies Sat. Dec. 29, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Memphis might finally get a *relatively* easy game this week when the Cavaliers (and former Memphis Grizzlies great Andrew Harrison) come to visit. They are one of the worst teams in the league, which is a welcome sight for a Memphis team that is looking like one of them. After playing LeBron, Memphis will play his former franchise reeling from the star’s departure. As of this writing, Cleveland is in the bottom-10 in offensive and defensive rating and look quite hopeless this season.

Cleveland has Colin Sexton, but not much hope for this season or the future. They fired their head coach Tyronn Lue very early in the year, a la Earl Watson last season, and it was jarring to see a championship-winning coach get canned so quick after his triumphant season. Kevin Love has only played in four games, J.R. Smith has publicly made known his desire to leave, and Jordan Clarkson is their leading scorer and he hasn’t started a game yet. This is a tire fire. So is Memphis, but not to this extent. They should win this to get back on track. If not, get worried.

And later in the week, Memphis hosts the Boston Celtics. They are similar to the Grizzlies in that their offense can be clunky at times, as it was especially for Boston early in the season, but they play great *team* defense. The difference is Boston is absurdly more talented, pedigree overflowing. Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum are all top-3 draft selections that play like it.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Tatum has been “regressing” in the eyes of many by not having a massive leap in production for his second year. The worrying about him and the Celtics has been overblown from the beginning of the season. They play like Memphis, styilistically, but just do it bigger and better. If Memphis is going to win and play well, they need to rebound well, an Achilles heel of the Boston basketball team. And with Aron Baynes out for the foreseeable future, Memphis reeeeally needs to take advantage with Jaren Jackson and Marc Gasol.

Also, Time Lord is an all-time nickname. I hope Robert Williams pans out as an NBA prospect so that we can all continue to use it.

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate. If not, enjoy your 25th of December and I hope you enjoy(ed) any other holiday you celebrate.

Follow @sbnGrizzlies