Memphis fell to the mighty Boston Celtics Friday night, 122-116. In a game that had some highs and lows, Memphis looked like a real basketball team for the first time since their win over the Spurs. The Grizzlies have now lost 15 of their last 18 games, trending in the wrong direction in many ways, but looked competent against the C’s. Big games from Jaren Jackson Jr. and Mike Conley kept the game competitive, but Kyrie Irving was just too much for Memphis.
Here are my grades for Friday night’s loss at the Celtics:
Mike Conley, B+
You know the conversations that start around this time every year: “Conley should be an all-star!” “Mike Conley, perhaps the best player in the league to never make an all-star team.” I’ll save my argument for the barber shop, but Conley had a great game against the Celtics. He was 9-18 from the field, 4-9 from three, but truly commanded the offense like we have grown accustomed from him.
Conley took quality shots, made good decisions when passing, and gave us another example of why it wouldn’t be surprising if he made an all-star team. He has had some of his own highs and lows this season, but the way he played Friday night could keep this team relevant in the second half of the season.
His counterpart, Kyrie Irving, was cooking, finishing the game with 38 points, but Conley held his own. If he had help from his fellow “all-star” center in Marc Gasol, perhaps the Grizzlies close this game out with a win. Which leads me to…
Marc Gasol, C-
Gasol did finish the game with a double double, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. But he was 1-10 from the field, 0-4 from three, for four points. That’s our franchise cornerstone, the only person on the roster with an all-star nod under his belt, and supposedly the leader of the team. That’s just unacceptable. We think he is struggling through a bum ankle, he hasn’t played well in many memorable games this season, and he was just out of sorts on offense Friday night.
I can appreciate a player that affects the game in other ways when its just not your shooting night, but he didn’t do anything creative, settled for long jumpers, and didn’t step up when the game was close down the stretch. That is not what you expect from a franchise player.
Justin Holiday’s “Stickwithitness”, B-
FoxSports South’s Brevin Knight is impressed with Holiday’s stickwithitness. That word isn’t in the dictionary, so don’t bother looking it up, but I think I know what it means. Holiday has struggled mightily since joining Memphis. With a lack of a role and poor shooting, the trade looked to be a bust. But Holiday played well against the Celtics. He looked comfortable for the first time and started the game with efficient shooting.
Brevin Knight just said Justin Holiday has great "stickwithitness". You're confused, not me.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 19, 2019
His shooting fell off as the game progressed, finishing with 14 points on 5-12 shooting, 2-5 from three. Those aren’t jaw dropping numbers, but for a player that is searching for something to hang his hat on, this game showed some stickwithitness. Look for Holiday to continue to build chemistry with teammates and find his shooting stroke.
Overall Memphis Offense, B
Finally Memphis looked competent on the offensive end. Of course, the biggest issue right now is that Grizzlies can’t stop anyone. Typically, the one thing you can count on for this team is that other teams will struggle to score. Recently that is not the case and remained true against the Celtics. But believe it or not, the Grizz offense kept them in the game. The last time Memphis scored as many as 116 points was November 30th in an overtime win at Brooklyn.
The ball movement was smart and efficient, they stayed away from the classic, non-working Mike Conley/Marc Gasol pick-n-roll, and used the three ball effectively. The lineups are still suspect, yet when the ball moves, this team can score. On another positive note, though the Celtics exploded for a 38 point third quarter, Memphis still put up 29 to keep the game relevant. That’s a sight for sore eyes if you’ve followed this team.
Let’s hope the Grizzlies learned something in this game and sets a trend for competent offense.