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The Hustle Report: A Playoff Preview

Hustle look to bounce back from Friday’s loss with a deep postseason run

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

Week 21 Results

Oklahoma City Blue 120 @ Memphis Hustle 96 (28-22)

Week 21 Headlines

  • Nino Johnson and Tarik Phillip pick up minor injuries in loss to Blue

Game 50 Breakdown

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Dusty Hannahs- 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
  • Markel Crawford- 19 points, 4 rebounds
  • Jay-R Strowbridge- 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists
  • Doral Moore- 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks

The Hustle dropped their season finale on Friday against the OKC Blue. Other than it being the home finale, the game was pretty meaningless for the Hustle as the result of the game had no impact on their playoff position. Because of this, Tyler Dorsey, Jevon Carter, Julian Washburn and Yuta Watanabe made the trip with the Grizzlies down to Orlando instead of staying in Southaven to help out the Hustle. The shorthanded Hustle got even more shorthanded in the first half as they lost both Nino Johnson and Tarik Phillip due to minor injuries. Ultimately the Blue, who needed a win to stay in contention for a first-round bye, were just too much for the Hustle. You can check out my full recap here.

Hustle Stats

114.2: The Hustle finished the season top 5 in points per game in the G-League, scoring nearly 115 points per game. The Hustle’s ability to put up points in bunches allowed them to stay competitive in nearly every game this season.

6.3: The Hustle also ranked top 5 in blocks per game, averaging 6.3. Doral Moore, and a little bit of Ivan Rabb, made the Hustle an intimidating team to go in the paint against. With Tarik Phillip and Jevon Carter in the backcourt, opposing guards had to be afraid of getting their shots blocked even if they weren’t driving against one of the bigs.

47.5%: The Hustle finished top 3 in the league in field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. The Hustle shot 47.5% from the field and 37.5 from beyond the arc. This goes to show that the Hustle weren’t just a high-scoring team but that they also did it efficiently. Frankly, I’m not sure if the game in the G-League playoffs slows down the way it does in the NBA, but if it does the Hustle will be ready because they play so efficiently.

MVP of the Week - The Grizzlies Players

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

With a one game slate this past week, and the result being a blowout loss, it showed how valuable the Grizzlies players are. Yuta Watanabe, Julian Washburn and Jevon Carter have been big for the Hustle all season, with Tyler Dorsey being a big acquisition at the deadline to help the Hustle in their playoff push. Friday night’s game showed the Hustle don’t stand a chance without at least some of these guys against the better G-League teams. Here’s to hoping they are available this coming week.

Week 21 Grade - B

The loss doesn’t really affect the Hustle one way or the other so I’m looking deeper into Friday’s game. The good: guys like Jay-R Strowbridge, Ismaila Kane and Laquinton Ross got extended minutes for the first time in a while and played relatively well. The bad: Nino Johnson and Tarik Phillip picked up minor injuries. With both players expected to be key pieces in the playoffs, it was unfortunate to see them get dinged up. Brad Jones was smart and kept both players out after they got hurt. It was good the Hustle kept everyone they could available to play for the home fans in the finale, but the risk of players getting injured nearly bit the Hustle big time.

Playoff Preview

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

Round 1: Memphis Hustle @ Stockton Kings 03/27 9 PM CT on Facebook Live

Round 2: Memphis Hustle/Stockton Kings @ Rio Grande Valley Vipers 3/29 7 PM CT on Facebook Live

The Hustle’s first round match-up of the playoffs will be a single-elimination bout against the Stockton Kings out in California. The Hustle are 0-3 against the Kings this season, but the record doesn’t tell the whole story. The Hustle are a much different team now compared to the 2 games in late December and early January. The Hustle and Kings did play in early March, but it was also one of Tyler Harvey’s first games out with his foot injury. Simply put, these two teams don’t fully know what to expect going into tomorrow night’s match-up. The Hustle will need to contain Daniel Ochefu and former Grizzly Troy Williams to be able to pull out a win against the Kings. The Sacramento Kings recently signed G-Leaguer Cody Demps to a 10-day contract, so it will be interesting to see if the Kings keep him in Stockton or bring him up to Sacramento. Demps has been a solid guard for the Stockton Kings all season, if he’s not with the team it would be a huge benefit to the Hustle.

If (when) the Hustle defeat the Kings, they’ll make a trip down to Texas to face off in another single-elimination battle against the Vipers on Friday. The Hustle split the season series 2-2 with the Vipers, with the home team winning both games thus giving the Vipers the upper hand in a potential semi-final matchup. With Danuel House signing with the Rockets, the Vipers lost a vital piece of their team a few weeks ago. Still, with Isaiah Hartenstein (if on assignment), Dakarai Tucker and Gary Payton II will be tough for the Hustle to beat. If the Hustle can sneak past the Kings, a matchup against the Vipers should prove to be an exciting matchup.

If the Hustle are able to make a deep run into the playoffs all the way to the conference finals, another Hustle Report will be up next week detailing the conference finals matchup, as well as a potential G-League finals series. Be sure to tune in to Facebook Live to cheer on the Hustle this week!

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