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Week-side Help: Week 16 - Waiting Game

Memphis loses heartbreaking games as the team and the city await the trade deadline

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Week 16 Results

Denver Nuggets 95 @ Memphis Grizzlies 92 (20-31) Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 97 (20-32) @ Minnesota Timberwolves 99 Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 92 (20-33) @ Charlotte Hornets 100 Recap | Box Score

Memphis Grizzlies 96 (21-33) @ New York Knicks 84 Recap | Box Score

Week 16 Storylines

-The Grizzlies announced F Kyle Anderson will see a shoulder specialist once the team returns to Memphis to further diagnose his injury. He recently just returned from a multiple week absence following an ankle injury.

-F Omri Casspi suffered a torn right meniscus and will undergo surgery to repair it, the team announced Friday.

-F Bruno Caboclo has signed a second 10-day contract with the team. If Memphis wants to keep him after those 10 days are over, they need to sign him for the remainder of the season.

-Memphis went 1-3 on the week, capping off the week with a victory in Madison Square Garden on Super Bowl Sunday.

-Required Reading: GBB’s Parker Fleming looks back on Mike Conley’s season, and why the promising All-Star campaign turned sour with the disastrous season from the whole team.

Week 16 Thoughts

-THANK GOODNESS the league decided to have one of the more dramatic weeks in recent memory.

-Kristaps Porzingis being traded, Anthony Davis requesting a trade, the Lakers almost fighting their coach, this league is crazy town. But all that drama was great for us.

-First, it gave us plenty of entertainment this season when Memphis absolutely refuses to do so. Secondly, it gave us a distraction when Memphis wanted to have a full week of heartbreaking losses. Starting with Denver. Holy crap.

-What in the WORLD was that second half against Denver?? Memphis actually came out like gangbusters in the first half. They were up 19 at halftime! Their largest lead was 25 points! They made a Denver team outperforming their injury bug all year look like all that extra energy spent was catching up to bite them.

-I actually turned the game off with about 5 minutes left because, no matter how bad the Grizzlies have disappointed me before, there was no way they could cough up a 13(!) point lead in 4:30 of gametime. Absolutely, no way.

-In turns out, my name is Idiot McGee from Idiotsville. What a fool I was to think Memphis could satisfy me emotionally.

-The perfect exclamation point on that horrific loss was Kyle Anderson’s absolutely beautiful final sequence. You can tell he wanted absolutely nothing to do with the ball in the last 10 seconds and he ended up with the ball three different times. Amazing.

-At least Memphis was close with Minnesota the entire game. It wasn’t anything to get one’s hopes up over, like a 19-POINT HALFTIME LEAD.

-But it was heartbreaking nonetheless. Buzzer-beaters will always be so. Ivan Rabb though! 10 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes!

-The loss to Charlotte was the most competitive game of the week by far. It was close, contested all the way through, and Memphis seemed to have a strategy to actually win!

-They just didn’t have the personnel to do it. They were missing Mike Conley, Jaren Jackson Jr., Kyle Anderson, and Garrett Temple. You can have whatever thoughts you have about those players, but they’re a hell of a lot better than Shelvin Mack, Ivan Rabb, and Julian Washburn.

-Also, I’m glad Shelvin Mack had a good game, but there are going to be 0 times that Memphis wins a game when he is our leading scorer.

-Fun tidbit: Memphis hasn’t won 2 games in a row since December 26th. They haven’t won 3 games in a row since November 21st.

-Let’s ignore the fact that Memphis’ first win in what feels like 3 months was against a tanking Knicks team that just upended their roster for cap space. And ignore that the new roster played their first game together against Memphis. And ignore that it was at 1 PM local time on a Sunday before the Super Bowl.

-It was every bit the sleepy, sloppy, ugly game that one would expect from two of the worst teams in the league. It wasn’t exactly good, or fun, basketball, but a lot of individual production that was definitely encouraging. Justin Holiday was great. Marc Gasol AND Mike Conley both having good games in the same game feels like a rare treat and we should appreciate it as such.

-Another thing to ignore: the entire bench combined for 12 points on 5-25 shooting. Ignorance is bliss!

-I just realized this might be the last Week-side Help where Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are Memphis Grizzlies. I cried a little at that, just being honest.

Protection Inspection

2/3 NBA Lottery Standings via tankathon.com
tankathon.com

Memphis is still in the 6th spot, but have secured some space between themselves and Orlando at 7.

There is a lot of congestion in the standings starting with Memphis, though. The spots between 6 and 11 are separated by just 4 games and 6 and 10 are separated by just 2.5 games. A hot week by any of these teams can knock them out of the clutter while a cold week can lead a team to the top of the second-tier where Memphis currently stands.

The lottery odds are a lot more wide open this year than before, with the lottery drawing the top 4 picks instead of the top 3 picks, so there could be a chance for some craziness on lottery night. Even if Memphis keeps their pick just barely at #8, they would still have a 6% chance of winning the Zion Williamson sweepstakes.

Week 17 Schedule and Preview

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Memphis Grizzlies Tues. Feb. 5th, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Oklahoma City Thunder Thurs. Feb. 7th, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

New Orleans Pelicans @ Memphis Grizzlies Sat. Feb. 9th, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

This is one of the hardest weeks to predict. With the NBA trade deadline on Thursday afternoon, all three opponents and the Grizzlies themselves can be drastically different. Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Jrue Holiday, and Anthony Davis are all great players that can be traded in between this being published and Thursday, or not at all. I love not knowing anything!

To start the week, Memphis gets another shot at Minnesota, but this time at home. It was such a close game last week, maybe the home-court advantage alone will be enough to swing the game in Memphis’ favor. Without Kyle Anderson and Casspi, the other wings like Bruno Caboclo and *shudder* Julian Washburn will need to step up.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves
KAT and company after the buzzer-beater last week to beat Memphis
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In the first game after the trade deadline, Memphis heads to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder. Who knows how these teams will look by then, but one player that will assuredly stay on his original team is Paul George. He has been simply amazing this season. He’s been named an All-Star starter over other very deserving candidates like Anthony Davis, but PG-13 absolutely deserves it. He’s coupling a 1st-team All-Defense performance this season with a career-high in 27.6 PPG (.454/.410/.828 shooting splits--amazing), 8.0 RPG, and 2.3 steals a night, also a career-high. He’s a top-5 player in the league right now and it shouldn’t be a hot take.

Who knows if Anthony Davis will be on the Pelicans’ roster on Saturday or if he’ll even be cleared to play from his fractured finger. In fact, Jrue Holiday might be gone as well as New Orleans looks to reset and rebuild for the future. The last time these two teams faced off, Memphis lost by a cool 20 points on MLK Day, at home, without Anthony Davis playing in that game either.

If Memphis can run the defensive scheme of “not letting Jahlil Okafor look like Tim Duncan” I think they’ll have a better chance of winning this game, if that’s even something they’re interesting in doing at this point in the season.

The games are secondary this week, though. What we’re all looking for is what happens with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, if they’re traded at all. It’s a waiting game for Thursday, so we’re just going to twiddle our thumbs until then. If this is it for those two in Memphis: thank you both, I love you both, and I hope they both win 5 championships each.

Have a good week, Memphis.

Follow @sbnGrizzlies