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Week-side Help: Week 13 - Wounded Bears

Recapping the week with thoughts on the Dillon Brooks/Kyle Anderson news, an up-and-down Marc Gasol week, and the Grizzlies defense actually losing a game.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Week 13 Results

Memphis Grizzlies 95 (18-22) @ New Orleans Pelicans 114 Recap | Box Score

San Antonio Spurs 86 @ Memphis Grizzlies 96 (19-22) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 108 (19-23) @ Miami Heat 112 Recap | Box Score

Week 13 Storylines

-Dillon Brooks will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn toe ligament, the team announced Thursday. The news was initially reported by The Vertical’s and Stadium’s Shams Charania.

-Kyle Anderson suffered a grade II Left Ankle Sprain and will miss 2-4 weeks, the team announced Sunday.

-Memphis hit the midpoint of their season, beating the Spurs in Game #41 as a part of their 1-2 week.

-Required Reading: From GBB’s Parker Fleming, Memphis has a budding star on their hands in a time where they never stay in one place. Here’s how Memphis can commit to keeping Jaren Jackson Jr. a Grizzly for the long-haul. | Amidst one of his best stretches in his career, JaMychal Green gets a strong and deserving defense from GBB’s Mark King.

Week 13 Thoughts

-I’m glad I gave myself some time and space to think about the Pelicans game instead of writing about it immediately because I would have been somehow even dumber and more irrational than I usually am and will be in the future. Frankly, it was uncompetitive and ugly to watch while also being one of Marc Gasol’s worst games in recent memory.

-He was outscored 8-7 by Joakim freakin’ Noah. He was neutered offensively and wasn’t even all that helpful on the defensive side, where he hangs his hat. He fouled out, which is a rarity for Marc, and was the on the complete opposite side of whatever his rhythm is. But I guess he was just saving up all the good plays for the game against San Antonio.

-Another reason why I’m glad I waited: Marc came back the very next game with a vintage Marc Gasol game. 26 points on 9-16 shooting, 14 rebounds, and contained LaMarcus Aldridge on the defensive end. An all-around great performance. I’m not sure if he was hurt/sore against the Pelicans or just wasn’t feeling it, but we need more of this Marc Gasol. The one that doesn’t actually make you regret making him your second or even first offensive option. That Marc Gasol could claw us back to the playoffs.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

-It felt so, so good for Memphis to actually get a win. Especially against the Spurs. It wasn’t even a fluky win!

-Alright guys, enough fun, *turns a chair around and sits on it backward with my arms leaning on the back to show you I am cool and you can confide in me* listen, if Memphis is going to start losing games because of bad defense, it’s a wrap.

-Like a wrap on everything. A wrap for our playoff chances. A wrap on the Bickerstaff era. A wrap on the Marc Gasol-Mike Conley era. Everything. For years this team has been average, to below average, to flat-out bad on offense because while we have smart players that try hard, we’ve never had the talent or the offensive system that’s ever gone above and beyond. But the Grizzlies have always been above-average to great at defense because having players that are smart and try hard is a much better start on defense than offense.

-The whole premise of keeping J.B. Bickerstaff was that the players liked him and the defense at least played well under his leadership as an interim. I’m not sure how far being liked is going to get him if the defense continues to falter and the team continues to lose like they have 12 of their last 15 games.

-Memphis just could not or had no idea how to defend Miami on the perimeter. They hit 15-of-31 three-pointers, including a blistering 10-15 start on such shots. Memphis, with some timely misses by the Heat and some decent defense of their own, kept Miami from running away with it in the second half. In fact, Memphis got close to winning the damn thing. But the Mike-Marc game was just not enough to catch up and get the victory. Instead, Memphis takes home an uncharacteristic loss in a year with many.

-About the injuries: holy crap they suck. Dillon Brooks has been on-and-off the court with nagging injuries, but now he’ll stay off the court with the surgery. Justin Holiday will assuredly need to step up with him gone for the year. But with Kyle Anderson gone for the next few weeks, that depth shrinks even more. Omri Casspi has been getting more playing time lately and he can fill in the stretch-4 minutes that Kyle was providing, but no one else on this bench can do all the little things as well as Kyle Anderson, ESPECIALLY on defense. He’s going to be sorely missed over the next 2-4 weeks.

Protection Inspection

1/13 NBA Lottery standings from tankathon.com

I don’t want to bring back last year’s “Official Permanent Lottery Watch of the Week” because frankly, this team is good enough to not warrant that. BUT this team is bad enough where now their pick could at least fall into the top-8, meaning the Grizzlies keep it. If their pick falls outside of the top-8, the Celtics get it.

There are different mindsets to how Memphis should want this pick to convey. If the pick ends up being protected and Memphis keeps it, their 2020 1st-round pick is top-6 protected or else it goes to Boston. In 2021, it’s unprotected. So it’s probably the better long term play to lose the 11th-12th pick in a top-heavy draft like this year rather than lose a top pick in a deeper draft.

As of this writing, Memphis would have the 9th pick, meaning it would be in Boston’s control. We’ll check on this every now and then as the season goes on.

Week 14 Schedule and Preview

Memphis Grizzlies @ Houston Rockets Mon. Jan 14, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Milwaukee Bucks @ Memphis Grizzlies Weds. Jan 16, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Boston Celtics Fri. Jan 18, 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Toronto Raptors Sat. Jan 19, 7:30 PM ET/6:30 PM CT

D E A T H W E E K

Holy moly, this is a loaded week of games. Even if Memphis were good I wouldn’t be upset at them going 0-4 here. All four opponents have championship aspirations and championship talent.

Starting with Houston, James Harden shows no sign of slowing down one bit. Memphis hasn’t shown the ability to slow him or the Rockets down. Oddly enough, they look even better without Chris Paul. Austin Rivers has been a great contributor in his steed, while also doing a good job of getting out of the way when it’s The James Harden Show, making for a more natural backcourt partner. Unfortunately for Memphis, I think Monday night is another continuation of The James Harden Show. As long as he can get his points from anywhere but the free throw line, at least it will be entertaining.

Now, the Bucks-Celtics-Raptors is a hell of a trilogy. The Bucks continue to be a monster of a team with Giannis leading them. The Celtics have been struggling lately, but they definitely have the talent and structure to turn it around. The Raptors continue to mosey along with the best record in the Association.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis, shockingly, beat the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee in November 2018, which feels like 20 years ago. The good ol’ days when Memphis had a winning record. Since then, Memphis has gotten worse and Milwaukee continues to be a buzzsaw. They’re 4th in offensive efficiency, 2nd in defensive efficiency, and 1st in having players named Giannis who dominate basketball games. The best hope for Memphis is hoping the Bucks are simply tired, as the matchup will be a SEGABABA (Second Game of a Back to Back) (I wish I knew who coined that phrase to give them credit, but I first read it on the great Matt Moore’s twitter account @hpbasketball).

I say all that to say this: Milwaukee may be tired, but they’re still an incredible team and Memphis is going to be near-perfect to win.

Against Boston, that won’t be the case, but they’re no slouch. They’ve been winning and playing well, but they have some issues on their team that may be taken advantage of while they’re trying to figure it out. First off is the play of Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward, who have been demoted to the bench in favor of the Marcuses: Morris and Smart. On paper, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward coming in to play your second unit sounds terrifying, but they’ve both been out of sorts. Memphis’ bench needs to come ready to pounce.

And finally, they close out the week with the best team in the league: the Toronto Raptors. You could name Kawhi Leonard (or James Harden or Giannis or Steph Curry) MVP right now and I wouldn’t challenge it one bit. He’s a Finals MVP and two-time DPOY and yet this might be his career year. He holds a career-high in PPG while shooting over 50% from the field while still bringing 1st-team level defense. Pascal Siakam is a young star. OG Anunoby and Danny Green are both incredible in their roles. I haven’t even mentioned Kyle Lowry who, at age 32, is averaging a career-high in assists per game (9.6).

Again, an 0-4 week seems both plausible and likely. In the face of adversity amid the Kyle Anderson and Dillon Brooks news, how does a thin and struggling team respond to their toughest challenge of the year? That might tell us all we need to know.

Have a good week, Memphis.

Follow @sbnGrizzlies