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Week-side Help: Week 11 - Happy New Year

Recapping a two-game week, more rotations/JJJ grumbling, and previewing a tough slate of upcoming games in the first week of 2019

NBA: Boston Celtics at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Week 11 Results

Cleveland Cavaliers 87 @ Memphis Grizzlies 95 (18-16) Recap | Box Score

Boston Celtics 112 @ Memphis Grizzlies 103 (18-17) Recap | Box Score

Week 11 Storylines

-Inspired by Avengers: Infinity War being released on Netflix, Memphis goes a very Thanos-like 1-1 on the week.

-Memphis announced Sunday that they waived G/F D.J. Stephens, who was on a two-way contract. It is reported by The Vertical’s and Stadium’s Shams Charania that the Grizzlies will sign F/C Jarnell Stokes of the G-League Sioux Falls Skyforce to a two-way contract.

-Chandler Parsons confirms the reporting that he’s been medically cleared to play, but the Memphis front office has held him back from competing.

-Required Reading: GBB’s Site Manager Joe Mullinax on the quiet, but incredible impact Garrett Temple makes on this team and on winning games. | GBB’s Parker Fleming questions the JaMychal Green-Marc Gasol pairing, whether it works on the court and whether it should be relied upon.

Week 11 Thoughts

-I’m going to start off by saying how considerate it was for the Grizzlies to give us a break during the holidays. Only two games in a week? Basically a vacation.

-Not sure how much credit Memphis should get for beating the Cavaliers, but a win counts all the same in the standings.

-But seriously, do wins actually count if Jaron Blossomgame played for your opponent?

-It was an ugly win, too. But good defense always looks ugly. Memphis held Cleveland to their worst field goal percentage of the season (35.5%), and that’s saying something for a team with a bottom-10 offense and a 8-27 record.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

-Because of that terrible production by Cleveland, the game should have been a bigger blowout, but it wasn’t. Cleveland kept themselves relatively in the game with an absurd offensive rebounding advantage, 19-3. The second chance points and ball control Cleveland gained from those cut the margin of error, but thankfully, Memphis had enough to overcome.

-The game against Boston was a showcase in how well Memphis can play when they make things easy on themselves. They didn’t make too many dumb turnovers, they were moving the ball and not getting stagnant offensively, and converted easy and effective shots in the paint early and often.

-I am purposefully inserting this next tweet with no video or context for the play:

-What J.B. Bickerstaff did with Jaren Jackson Jr in the 4th quarter against Boston was baffling. Letting him sit during the entirety of Boston’s run, bringing him in for two minutes, then putting him back on the bench to end the game didn’t make sense at the time or after the fact when J.B. defended his decision in post-game Q&A’s, claiming it was to counter Boston’s small-ball lineup.

-I don’t know if I buy that logic. The whole fantastical nature of Jaren’s play is the number of amazing things he can do at his size. He can handle the ball and drive from the perimeter to the basket against just about anyone with relative ease as a 7-footer. He can use that height and timing to protect the rim on the other end, and his quickness and length to defend at the perimeter. If he can do all the small-ball things you could want, but with the added benefit of his size, why wouldn’t JJJ be helpful in the 4th quarter of a close game?

-Some nights, Jaren is our 2nd-best player. Other nights, he’s 3rd. Very rarely is he anything less than that. It’s the questionable strategy at best, malpractice at worst, to not have your five best players on the court in winning time. The idea behind it might make sense for a game or two, but it doesn’t explain the season-long trend.

-Despite all that, the loss to the Celtics is not entirely on Bickerstaff. The players need to shoulder some responsibility for shots not falling the second half, and the 4th quarter in particular. Memphis was 12-29 in the second half and showed some of the same stagnation they’ve shown at times this season. If Mike isn’t lighting the world on fire, perfectly at that, then Memphis tends to get confused on what to do offensively late in the game. That trend definitely needs to be nipped in the bud if Memphis wants to consistently win and beat good teams.

-Also, Shelvin Mack was bad again. So this tweet fits naturally:

Week 12 Schedule and Preview

Memphis Grizzlies @ Houston Rockets Mon. Dec. 31, 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT

Detroit Pistons @ Memphis Grizzlies Weds. Jan. 2, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Brooklyn Nets @ Memphis Grizzlies Fri. Jan. 4, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ San Antonio Spurs Sat. Jan. 5, 8:30 PM ET/7:30 PM CT

Okay, James Harden has been on fire in the last ten games, even garnering some MVP attention as the carousel of the MVP race spins on during the regular season. And the Rockets beat the Grizzlies the last time they played. But there is a saving grace for Memphis. They’re playing IN Houston on New Year’s Eve. There’s absolutely no chance James Harden pays attention to anything that happens in this game. He’s already at his NYE party, mentally, by the time halftime comes.

After starting the season reasonably well, the Detroit Pistons have struggled, trying to remain in the playoff hunt. They currently sit at the 8-spot, and as of now, Dwane Casey would lead his Pistons against the Raptors team that fired him after winning Coach of the Year.

Like a Dwane Casey team, the Pistons play solid defense. They are 11th in defensive rating and 13th in opponent effective field goal percentage, a number that accounts for three-pointers being worth more. But their offense is what’s failed them this season and slowed their hot start. Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin are great, but that pairing doesn’t make for a blistering offense. Around two dominant interior presences, Detroit has failed to surround them with offensive help or shooters, making their offense one-dimensionally effective.

The Brooklyn Nets are America’s Team. There, I said it. They have all-time likable guys in Jared Dudley and Jarrett Allen and the franchise has gone through so much losing it’s hard not to root for them. They haven’t owned their own draft pick in about half a decade, so all that losing didn’t even net (pun intended) any top-tier prospects. Caris LeVert is very good, and I hope he returns to form from his disastrous injury. It also helps to know that this is one of the bad teams in the NBA that actually tries to the do things the right way. They play a modern style of basketball and they are truly committed to the rebuild, which has helped it grow in a more organic way.

And Brooklyn is charging, too. They are winners in 9 of their last 12 games. This should be a fun match-up between these two teams. The first one certainly was.

I got to be honest with you, I don’t get excited for these games against the Spurs like I used to. It doesn’t help that San Antonio is fighting just for a playoff spot like the Grizzlies. It was a lot more fun when we were beating the perennial contender rather than a peer. Nevertheless, this game is important. The Grizzlies are just a game back behind the Spurs in the standings with both teams on the outside looking in regarding the playoff.

San Antonio and Memphis have only met once this season, and it ended in a close 104-103 victory for the Grizzlies. It might be different this time, however, as the Spurs have been on a tear. They are 9-3 in their last 12 games (same as the Nets) and have been playing their best basketball of the season. DeMar DeRozan isn’t playing at that near-MVP level anymore, but he’s still very good when not playing LeBron James. This team can flat out hit shots and play smart, effective offense. Memphis needs to bring its perimeter defense to this game, as San Antonio has the best three-point shooting percentage in the league.

Happy New Year, Memphis.

Follow @sbnGrizzlies