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The Hustle Report: Playoffs?!

Tarik Phillip steps up in Tyler Harvey’s absence to keep the Hustle in the playoff picture

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

Week 17 Results

Memphis Hustle (21-18) 132 @ Long Island Nets 137

Rio Grande Valley Vipers 113 @ Memphis Hustle 122 (22-18)

Week 17 Headlines

  • Kyle Casey drops 11 points and 6 rebounds total in Team USA’s wins over Panama and Argentina
  • Hustle star Tyler Harvey still out with foot injury
  • Tarik Phillip has career night vs. Nets
  • Hustle acquire Jay-R Strowbridge who spent training camp with Hustle

Game 39 Breakdown

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Key Stats

  • Tarik Phillip- 48 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks, 2 steals
  • Justin Tillman- 19 points, 7 rebounds
  • Markel Crawford- 16 points, 6 rebounds
  • Yuta Watanabe- 14 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists
  • Julian Washburn- 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals

The Hustle came back from a 19 point deficit to nearly defeat the Long Island Nets in New York over the weekend. With Tyler Harvey out due to injury, Tarik Phillip stepped up in a big way with a career high 48 point game. The Hustle as a team really stepped up in the second half without Harvey, with multiple players having solid games. Ultimately, the 19 point deficit was just too much to overcome. Two-way player Theo Pinson led the Nets with 28 points and 9 rebounds while Alan Williams dropped a 17 point, 12 rebound double-double. The Nets are a fine team and the win put them in 1st in the Eastern Conference, but this loss stings because the Hustle could’ve won it even without Harvey.

Game 40 Breakdown

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Key Stats

  • Tarik Phillip- 26 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Yuta Watanabe- 22 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Jevon Carter- 22 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, 1 block
  • Doral Moore- 16 points, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks
  • Julian Washburn- 15 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals

The Hustle won a thrilling matchup against the RVG Vipers Tuesday night. The win was monumental in the Hustle’s efforts to make the G-League playoffs, as the Vipers are a top 2 team in the Western Conference. All 5 Hustle starts scored in double figures and the team as a whole forced 23 turnovers in a great defensive effort. You can check out my full recap here.

Hustle Stats

22: The Hustle have already beaten their win total from last season with 22 wins with 10 games remaining. It’s been a very different season this year for the Hustle as they’ve been in the playoff picture all season, whereas last year they struggled until the end of the season before getting hot the last 10 games.

1: One game can make all the difference for the Hustle. With just 10 games remaining, only one game separates the 6th ranked Hustle and the 7th ranked Salt Lake City Stars. Likewise, only one game separates the Hustle from the 5th ranked Sioux Falls Skyforce in the Western Conference standings. Things are going to be quite interesting down the stretch as the playoff race winds down.

MVP of the Week - Tarik Phillip

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This Tarik Phillip guy is pretty good! With Tyler Harvey out due to injury, Phillip stepped up in a big way in his absence last week. Tarik averaged 37 points last week, highlighted by his career 48 point night in the loss to the Nets. Phillip has been the offensive spark I thought the Hustle would miss with Harvey out, and has also been his dominant self on the defensive end as well with 3 steals and 4 blocks last week.

Week 17 Grade - A

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Brad Jones has been able to get his team to rally and fight despite the injuries piling up on the team over the past 10 days or so. The Hustle didn’t have Harvey or Kyle Casey at all last week and only had Dusty Hannahs in the first half against the Nets. Despite that, the Hustle kept it close with the Nets and got a huge win over the Vipers. Brad Jones has done an excellent job having this team prepared for anything thrown at them.

Week 18 Preview

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Game 41: Memphis Hustle @ Santa Cruz Warriors 03/01 9 PM CT

Game 42: Memphis Hustle @ Stockton Kings 03/03 3 PM CT

Game 43: Memphis Hustle @ Agua Caliente Clippers 03/05 9 PM CT

Game 44: Memphis Hustle @ Salt Lake City Stars 03/06 8 PM CT

If the Hustle are going to hold on to their spot in the playoffs, they’re going to have to earn it. This upcoming week, they have 4 games against the top tier of teams in the Western Conference. The Warriors and Kings have solidified their spot in the playoffs, while the Stars and Clippers are neck and neck with the Hustle for the 6th and final playoff spot.

To start off Hell Week, the Hustle travel to face off against the Santa Cruz Warriors. The Warriors blew out the Hustle in Southaven 110-91 in a disappointing Financial Literacy day game. The Hustle should hope that the early tip-off that game was the main reason they got behind so early. In the previous match-up Kendrick Nunn (30 points) and Will Cherry (21 points, 7 assists, 4 steals) dominated for the Warriors. The Warriors are a beatable team, but it’s going to take a lot for the Hustle to pull out the win on the road.

The Hustle will continue their California road trip when they travel to face off against the Stockton Kings. The Kings hold a 2-0 lead on the season series after defeating the Hustle to wrap up 2018 and to begin 2019. The Hustle are a different team now compared to a couple of months ago, mainly because of Tyler Harvey. His health will play a big role on how the Hustle do this week. Regardless, the Hustle will need to lock down Kalin Lucas and Troy Williams if they want to steal a win in Stockton.

The Hustle will then head south to tip off against the Agua Caliente Clippers. The Hustle have already clinched the season series after winning the first two match-ups, but will need to secure the season sweep if they want to make the Clippers less of a threat to their playoff desires. The Hustle have won both games by just one possession, so winning won’t come easy. After a dominant first half, the Hustle were able to contain rebounding machine Angel Delgado in the last match-up. Limiting Delgado will go a long way in sweeping the Clippers.

The Hustle will wrap up their 4 game road trip out west with a visit to Salt Lake City to face off against the Stars. Most recently, the Hustle came back from down 18, without Tyler Harvey, to defeat the Stars in an OT thriller in Southaven last week. The Hustle will need to keep up the defensive pressure against the Stars as well as take care of the ball themselves. Tyler Cavanaugh (25 points, 15 rebounds last week) will be trouble down low for the Hustle as him and the 7’2” 290 lbs Isaac Hass form one of the more intimidating frontcourts in the G-League.

This upcoming week could make or break the Hustle’s season. Even splitting the week 2-2 could go a long way in securing the Hustle’s spot in the G-League playoffs.

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